Ringing in the New (AU,M/L,Adult) (Complete)

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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:45 pm

************************************************************

Liz was trying to hurry with gathering her things so that she could get home before Michael and Kylan got too impatient with waiting for her. She was a little upset that the meeting had ran longer than she’d expected, but there wasn’t anything she could do about it now.

As she finished closing her briefcase and began shrugging on her coat, Tess walked up to the desk and put her hands on her hips. “Elizabeth Parker, how could you keep a secret from me!”

Liz gave her a puzzled look. “What are you talking about Tess?”

Tess began tapping her foot. “Why didn’t you tell me your son’s babysitter was hot! Do you have any idea how much I almost embarrassed myself from the puddle of drool I left behind!”

Liz stopped shrugging into her coat and gave Tess a look. “Ooookay. I don’t think I needed to know that.”

“What? Are you telling me you haven’t noticed how good looking the man is? When was the last time you had your eyes checked?”

Liz rolled her eyes. “My eyes are perfectly fine Tess.”

“Then you should have noticed how perfectly fine Max is!”

“Tess…”

“Yum and did you ever look at that tush? You told me he was good with things around the house. Makes you wonder just what else he’s good at.”

“Tess!”

“Oh come on Liz! I saw the Halloween décor and the carved pumpkins. If he’s that talented with his hands…can you just imagine if…”

“Tess Harding that is enough! I don’t want to hear about how you were ogling my son’s babysitter.”

Tess gaped at her. “Are you saying you’ve never done that?”

When Liz just gave her a ‘duh’ look, Tess sputtered in disbelief. “You have got to be kidding! How could you not notice that walking…”

“Tess! Would you stop!” Liz shook her head and smiled at her friend’s bluntness. She couldn’t help it. Every time Tess talked about men, she had Liz in stitches with the words she used to describe them.

Tess sighed. “Well, since you haven’t noticed him, I’m wondering just who else has.”

Liz shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know if he’s single?”

Liz nodded. “I think he is. I know he lives alone and he never talks about having a girlfriend. I’ve only heard him talk about his friends and family.”

Tess grinned. “Really? How interesting.”

Liz narrowed her eyes when she saw the look on her friend’s face. “What are you scheming up now?”

Tess gave Liz an innocent look. “Oh nothing.”

“Tess, spill.”

“Weeeell, since you don’t seem to be interested and you think he’s single…”

“Yes?”

“Think you could be a great friend and set us up on a date?”

Liz blinked. “Seriously?”

Tess pouted. “I did it for you.”

Liz rolled her eyes, “Yes you did. With your brother. Who is now a great friend of mine.”

Tess grinned. “Exactly. See it turned out okay. So?”

Liz looked at Tess making puppy dog eyes at her for all of two seconds before sighing. “I suppose I could run the idea by him.”

Tess giggled. “Wonderful!”

As Liz picked up her things and headed out the door, Tess suddenly exclaimed. “Oh! I just got a great idea!”

Liz turned to look at her. “Tess I’m already running late.”

“I know. Listen, how about we go on a double date. You and Mike and me and Max. That way we won’t feel so uncomfortable with the two of you there, huh? I mean we all know each other, so it could be fun.”

Liz nodded. “Okay, I’ll run that by the guys when I get home.”

Tess chuckled as Liz waved goodbye. “Thanks Liz!” She called out.

Liz simply waved as she rushed out of the door.

************************************************************

“So, Max did you ever want to go to college?” asked Tess as she continued to eat the dinner she had ordered.

Liz had brought up the subject of going on a double date with Tess and Max to Michael. Michael hadn’t seemed too keen with the idea, but Liz had told him that Tess was the one who wanted to go on a date with Max.

Finally Michael had relented, thinking that if it was just the four of them, maybe Liz would see just how uninterested Max was in any woman who was not her. He was also hoping his sister would see what he saw every time Max and Liz were together. He knew that once she did, Tess wouldn’t be interested in pursuing someone who wouldn’t look at her twice.

Liz found that it was even harder to talk Max into going out with Tess than it had been to convince Michael. She had bugged him for almost two weeks until he too finally surrendered to her begging and allowed Liz to plan a double date for the four of them.

It was the Saturday before Halloween when the four of them went out together while Kylan stayed with Nancy. Deciding to keep it casual, Liz had arranged for them to all meet at her apartment before they went to have dinner in the adult entertainment center Michael had taken her to before.

Max shook his head, “No there really wasn’t a particular career that I was interested in pursuing.”

“Really? I thought since you like dealing with kids, you could have picked a career along those lines.”

“True, but at the time I hadn’t known I liked to deal with kids. And by the time I figured it out, too much time had passed.”

“It’s never too late to go to college Max. Why I’ve even seen a lot of elderly people attending college classes,” said Liz.

Max shrugged. “I know, but I guess I’m just happy with the way my life is going right now.”

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. And since Max seems to be doing very well in his life it’s all good. He’s happy and for some people it’s the happiness that counts more than anything else,” said Michael.

Max grinned. “Yep, that’s true.”

Liz nodded. “I guess that’s true. You do seem happy Max and you seem to have managed very well.”

Michael turned to look at her. “What about you? Did you always want to go to college?”

Liz grinned. “Oh yeah. I’d been dreaming of going to college ever since I can remember. I had always loved to decorate my room and when mom let me decorate the living room one year, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go to college to learn how to professionally decorate the inside of people’s houses. I had always thought that would be so much fun to do.”

Max smiled. “Is it fun?”

“Yes it is. I mean there are parts that get a little tedious or frustrating, but at the end of the project when I get to see the finished work, I love seeing the happy faces of the people I decorated for. Just seeing how excited they are makes me happy. And I still enjoy being able to come up with all of my own creations, you know.”

Max nodded. “Yeah, that’s sort of how I feel when I finish a repair job and I managed to make it better than it was before. It just feels good.”

Michael looked up at Max with a grin. “I get it. It was something you created.” He turned to Liz. “It’s almost the same thing with you, Liz. You get satisfaction out of something you created with your own hands, so does Max.”

Liz chuckled. “Only I had to go to college to learn how to do that. Max seems to have been born with that natural talent.”

Max returned her smile. “Not really, I learned most of what I know from actually doing the jobs. Hands on experience as they say.”

They all laughed as Michael said. “Yep. That’s really interesting isn’t it? Jobs that deal with creating something of your own can be learned either in a classroom or learned by trial and error.”

Max and Liz looked at each other with small smiles on their faces.

“Yeah…” said Max.

“…interesting.” finished Liz.

************************************************************

Tess leaned against the side of the arcade game her brother was currently playing, but her gaze wasn’t on him. It was on the couple who were currently trying to see who was the fastest at accumulating points in order to get their horse and jockey across the finish line. They were sitting side by side at the booth and rolling balls up an incline trying to get them to fall into the holes with the highest points. The more points they got, the closer the horse got to the finish line.

She watched as Liz’s horse got close before Max’s horse suddenly lunged ahead and won the game. As Max threw his hands in the air and gave a shout of victory, Liz punched him in the shoulder. It started a playful shoving match between the two of them that soon had them laughing like kids until Max settled down long enough to pick a prize.

He pointed to a small white cat and when the operator handed it to him, he handed it to Liz. Tess watched as Liz gave him a shy smile and thanked him before they went back to their taunting for the next round of racing.

Crossing her arms in front of her, she addressed her brother. “Michael?”

“Yeah,” he replied without taking his eyes away from his arcade game.

“Have you noticed anything about them?”

“Who?”

Tess rolled her eyes and smacked her brother on his shoulder as she said, “I’m serious.”

Michael grabbed his shoulder and scowled at her. “Ow! That hurt!”

“It did not, you big oaf! Now answer the question.”

“What was the question.”

Tess gave an exasperated sigh and turned him around until he was facing in Max and Liz’s direction. “I’m not imagining things am I?”

Michael stared at them for a moment before he slowly shook his head. Turning to look down at his little sister he sighed. “Sorry sis, I’m afraid you’re not.”

Tess nodded with a frown. “That’s what I thought. So, what’s wrong with that picture and how do we fix it?”

Michael couldn’t help but grin at her words. He’d been right. The moment Tess realized she didn’t have a chance with Max, she was already jumping on the bandwagon to get those two together. Proud of the fact that she was woman enough to admit defeat without batting an eyelash, he reached out and pulled her into a tight hug.

Tess squeaked. “What the….Mike let go!”

Michael leaned back and looked into her eyes. “Have I told you lately how much I love you, little sis?”

Tess rolled her eyes. “Okay, enough with the sentimentality. You’re starting to scare me.”

He laughed. “Sorry, it’s just I was wondering if you were going to disappoint me or not.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Seriously? Why didn’t you just tell about it in the first place.”

“Would have believed me?”

Tess turned to look at them once more. Max was currently trying to roll the balls with one hand while attempting to tickle Liz with the other. Liz was giggling up a storm as she tried to simultaneously bat his hand away and roll her own balls.

Tess shook her head. “No, you’re right. I wouldn’t have.”

“Exactly.”

Tess sighed. “So, what are we going to do about it?”

Michael echoed her sigh. “I haven’t a clue.”

************************************************************

Absently twirling her ring around her finger, Liz looked up from her desk in time to see Tess walking past the door. “Tess?”

Tess stopped and poked her head into Liz’s office. “Good morning Liz.”

Liz chuckled. “Don’t you good morning me, my friend. Come on in and make yourself comfortable. I want to hear all about the end of the date.”

Tess shrugged as she walked into the room. “There’s really not much to tell. After you and Michael left, Max took me home and I thanked him for a fun night.”

Liz frowned. “That’s it?”

Tess nodded. “Yep, that’s it.”

Liz quirked an eyebrow. “Gee after the way you were going on about him and begging me to set the two of you up, I thought for sure you’d be trying to get him into your place.”

Tess shrugged. “I changed my mind.”

“Seriously? Did something happen?”

She shook her head. “No. I just realized he isn’t my type at all.”

Liz gaped at her. “Not your type? Tess you were ogling him at my apartment!”

“So what if I was? There’s nothing wrong with appreciating beauty when you see it, but after getting to know him, I knew it wasn’t meant to be.”

Liz frowned. “What don’t you like about him?”

Tess chuckled. “Oh Liz. It’s not that I don’t like him. I think he’s a great guy, but he’s not my type. I guess the initial attraction wore off once I got to know him a little better. Now I think we’re just better off as friends.”

“You sure?”

She nodded. “Yep. It’s not so bad just being friends with him. Besides there are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

Liz chuckled. “You and Michael really are one of a kind you know that? I’m glad you guys are my friends.”

Tess grinned and got up from her seat. Walking around the desk, she hugged Liz. “I’m glad you’re my friend too, Liz.”

************************************************************

The apartment was quiet when Kylan slid out of his bed and tiptoed to the door. Doing his best not to make a sound, he closed the door and turned on the lamp next to his bed. As soon as the light flicked on, Kyle appeared near the end of the bed.

Kylan grinned at his friend. “She went out wit him this weekend. Max tol’ me what they did. He said they had lots of fun and they laughed a lot.”

Kyle nodded. “Yes, but didn’t you say they went out with two others?”

“Yeah, but they’re mom’s friends. Mike and Tess are her friends.”

Kyle frowned. “You sure?”

“That what Max said. He said he and mom spent most of the time playing a racing game. Tess and Mike didn’ play wit them. And he won her a white kitty. Mom’s always loved white fluffy kitties.”

Kyle grinned. “Yes, she has.”

“See? They startin’ to like each other.”

“I hope so, Kyl. But we still have to wait and see.”

Kylan sighed. “Can’ we do somethin’ about it?”

Kyle shook his head. “Not right now, but I have a feeling we might be able to do something soon. Let’s just wait and see, okay?”

“M’kay Kyle.”

He grinned. “Okay, let’s get you into bed now. It would be bad for your mom to catch you up this late at night.”

Kylan nodded. “Yeah, I got school tomorrow too.”

After Kylan turned off the lights and crawled into bed, Kyle tucked him in and whispered goodnight. He waited until Kylan was asleep before taking his leave.

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:09 am

Part 10

“Michael! Just pick one already! It’s starting to get dark and I’m freezing!” exclaimed Liz in slight exasperation.

“Liz, I’m not going to just grab the first tree I see and drag it from the lot! This tree has to be special!”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Mike it’s not as if Kylan hasn’t had a Christmas tree before. He’s had plenty.”

“I know, but this is the first real one he’ll have since you guys moved back to Texas.” Liz stuck her tongue out at him when he smirked at her.

“There’s nothing wrong with my artificial tree! It was the best one I could find!”

Michael sighed, “I know Liz, but just humor me, okay?”

“Fine! Just don’t take too much longer because I really am cold!”

“Okay.”

Liz and Michael continued to walk around the Christmas tree lot until Michael found one that he thought would be perfect for the apartment Liz and Kylan shared. Once Liz approved of it too, Michael brought it and hauled it to the back of the pick up truck he’d borrowed from a friend of his.

He was just getting it tied down when they heard a voice exclaim, “Liz?”

Liz turned towards the voice to see a slender blonde walking towards her with a huge smile on her face.

“Maria!” Liz laughed, recognizing the woman instantly.

“Oh my God, Liz it really is you!” chuckled Maria as she walked up to Liz and gave her a hug.

Liz returned the heartfelt hug as she replied, “Yes! Wow! It’s so good to see you again Maria.”

They pulled away from each other, but Maria kept her hands in Liz’s. “How’s Kylan? Is Max doing a good job taking care of him?”

Liz grinned. “Kylan’s great! He misses you just as much as I do, but Max is doing a wonderful job taking care of him.” She gave a mock frown as she added, “But shame on Max for not mentioning that you were going to be back in time for the holidays!”

“This is only my second day back, so don’t get upset with him yet. He doesn’t know I’m home either, too busy with work and all, you know?” she winked conspiratorially.

“Oh, I see. Well, you have to come by and say hi to Kylan before you go back to school okay?”

“Of course I will! I have gifts for the two of you anyway.”

“Oh Maria! You didn’t have…”

“I know, but I just saw these things and knew they would be perfect for you, so I got them.”

Michael suddenly cleared his voice, snapping Liz’s attention back to him.

“Oh! Michael, I’m so sorry!” she apologized as she turned to Maria. “Maria Evans, this is a good friend of mine, Michael Harding. Michael, this is Kylan’s last babysitter and Max’s younger sister, Maria.”

Michael gave her a huge smile as he held out his hand to her. “It’s nice to meet you Maria. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you from Max, Liz, and Kylan.”

Maria shook his hand as she gave him a smile with a hint of shyness in it. “You know my brother?”

He nodded without letting go of her hand just yet. “Yeah, I met him a few months ago, just after Liz and I became friends. We started hanging out together and well, he always talks so proudly about his little sister who was away at college.”

Maria blushed. “Wow. Um, well Max hasn’t mentioned you, but I think that’s because we really haven’t had a chance to talk. I’ve been so busy with school that I’ve only had the chance to talk to my parents mostly.”

Michael nodded as he slowly let go of her hand. “It’s understandable.”

Liz couldn’t help but look from one to the other during the whole exchange as realization began to dawn on her. She hadn’t missed the way the two of them held hands a little longer than was normal for two strangers that had just met. And then there was the way they kept looking at each other and the blush of Maria’s cheeks.

She resisted the urge to start grinning like a fool over the immediate attraction that was happening between Michael and Maria. Instead, a plan was formed inside her head.

“Maria, are you busy this evening?”

Maria slowly tore her gaze from Michael’s as she responded to Liz. “This evening? Um, no I was just going to finish unpacking and then probably ask my mom if she wanted to watch some movies with me.”

Liz nodded. “I see, well would you be interested in coming over to the apartment for dinner with us? Kylan would love to see you and we’re going to be decorating our tree, so I know he’d love to have your help with it.”

“Oh, are you sure? I mean isn’t Max going to be helping this year?”

“Of course he’ll be there, he’s cooking after all.” she laughed. “He’s much better at it than I am and is kind of hesitant to let me into my own kitchen sometimes. So, it’ll mostly be me, Kylan, and Michael decorating the tree. What do you say? You know both Max and Kylan would love to see you for a while, just like I would.”

Maria looked at Liz’s expectant face for a few moments before she finally smiled. “Sure, I’d love to go spend the evening with you guys!”

Liz laughed, “Great! It’ll be so much fun to have you there with us again.” She gave Maria a hug before pulling away. “So, I’ll see you in about two hours okay?”

Maria nodded. “Okay, in two hours.”

************************************************************

Kylan frowned as he lay on his back in his bed. Nothing had seemed to work that night. And he knew he wasn’t the only one who had come away upset about that. He may have been only seven years old, but he knew a set up when he saw it. Kylan had seen that Mike and Tess had done almost everything they could to get his mom and Max together.

He could see that Max seemed to put some effort into it too, but his mom was still not getting it. Even Maria had seemed to get it and she’d only seen the two of them together that night. Kylan had been aware of Maria and Mike walking outside for a few minutes and when they came back, suddenly Maria seemed to be in on the little secret.

Kylan had dropped lots of hints, just like all the others had. And he kept saying things like he wanted Max to be the one to help him put the star on top of the tree instead of anyone else. He knew his mom was a little hurt that he didn’t want her to help him since they usually did it together before, but he was hoping that by getting Max to help him, his mom would get the hint that he wanted Max in their lives a whole lot more than he already was.

When that hadn’t worked, he’d tried again while they ate dinner. Asking his mom if Max could become the only cook for them because he liked Max’s cooking better than anyone else’s. He tried to tell her that he wanted Max to always cook for them. Always.

And then he’d asked Max if he’d agree to do it. Max had said he would cook for them for as long as his mother allowed it. So, Kylan had told his mom to say Max could cook for them forever. However, his mother said Max couldn’t cook for them forever because he had other things to do with his life. His mom seemed to be the only one who had missed the glum looks both he and Max had worn after she’d said that.

He just didn’t understand it. Kylan couldn’t understand why his mother wasn’t getting it. Tess had tried. Michael had tried. And now, even Maria was trying. But nothing was working.

“Kylan?” came Kyle’s low voice from the corner of the room.

“Yeah?”

“You okay?”

“She didn’ take the hints again Kyle! An’ this time it wasn’ only me! It was Tess, an’ Mike, an’ even Ria!”

“Shh. It’s okay Kylan. It’ll happen, I know it will.”

“But when!”

“I don’t know.”

They were silent for a few moments, each lost in thought.

Finally Kyle let out a sigh. “Somehow we have to find a way to get the two of them to go out together. Do you know if your mom has to go to a party or some kind of get together soon? Maybe something for work?”

Kylan shook his head. “She hasn’ said nothing.”

“Well, I guess you’ll just have to keep your ears open then. See if she’s got something that she has to go to where she has to take someone with her. If so, then you have to try to get Max to go with her.”

Kylan grinned. “Ooooh! Yeah, that would be good! Okay, Kyle. I’ll be listenin’ for somethin’ like that.”

Kyle nodded. “Good boy. All right then, you should try and get some sleep now. If I come up with anything else, I’ll let you know, okay?”

“M’kay. Night Kyle.”

“Goodnight, Kylan.”

************************************************************

Tess sat in her chair looking at the couple with a knowing smile. She didn’t even turn away from watching them even when Liz and Kylan sat down next to her at the table. Kylan immediately began digging into the ice cream sundae Liz had gotten from the little store in the mall for the two of them to share.

As her son continued to eat the ice cream, Liz turned to look in the direction Tess was staring at. She chuckled, “I guess I did good huh?”

Tess finally turned to look Liz in the eyes. “Yeah, almost way too good! But then again, I guess it helps that those two were already smitten with each other the moment they laid eyes on each other.”

Liz nodded. “Oh yeah. You should have seen your brother’s face when he saw Maria. He was definitely a goner.”

Tess simply nodded and went back to watching her brother and his new girlfriend. Technically, Michael and Maria weren’t an item yet. They’d only been seeing each other for almost two weeks, but it had been a very full two weeks.

All Liz had to do was invite Maria over for dinner that fateful night and from there, Michael and Maria had done everything else themselves. They had instantly hit it off and Michael had asked Maria if she would go out on a real date with him before that night was even over.

The two of them had gotten together almost every day after that just to hang out or go on another date. At first, Max was protective of his little sister, but Maria immediately put a stop to that when she told him she was old enough to make her own decisions and since he’d never interfered in her life before, she didn’t want him interfering now.

Granted, Max had only done the protective older brother bit the first time he’d found out Michael and Maria were seeing each other. After that, he’d made his point and sat back to watch his little sister enjoying time with the new man in her life. Max was glad that Michael was well suited for an independent and energetic woman like Maria.

Even Tess had been happy that her older brother had found someone who was making him happy. Sure Michael had a lot of women in his life, like her and Liz, but that didn’t count. Now he had a woman he genuinely cared about, who had the potential to be more than just a friend the way Liz was. Tess could see just how much Michael was attracted to the slender, medium height blonde with the ready smile.

Plus the fact that Maria was going to college meant that she was smart enough to hold her own with Michael in a conversation. And so far, she was proving it. Tess couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen her brother smile so much outside of the times he was around her, Liz, or Kylan. Still, the smiles he wore around Maria were the kind of smiles Tess had begun to think she’d never see. Those smiles said Michael only had eyes for Maria.

Oh yeah, Michael was smitten and so was Maria. The two of them hadn’t hesitated to plunge into dating each other at all. They’d already made it plain to each other and to anyone else who was interested that they were attracted to each other.

She sighed inwardly as she glanced at Liz out of the corner of her eye. Liz was currently talking with Kylan as they ate their sundae. Now, if only they could get Liz and Max to finally admit their attraction for each other then everything would be all right.

************************************************************

After Maria and Michael had finished their shakes, the five of them finally got up to finish shopping at the mall. Kylan had long ago finished the sundae he’d been sharing with Liz and had begun to get impatient waiting for Michael and Maria to be done with theirs.

As the five of them made their way through the mall, Kylan holding Maria’s hand while Michael was holding her other hand, Tess glanced at Liz before asking her a question.

“So, Liz who are you going to take to the office Christmas party this year?”

Maria, Michael, and Kylan, who had all been walking ahead of Liz suddenly glanced back at her to hear her answer.

“I don’t think I’m going to go this year,” she replied.

“What? Liz! You can’t not go! It’s the office Christmas party! You know this party alone could help or hurt your status in the company!”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Tess, that is just a myth and you know it.”

Tess sighed. “Whatever. Come on girl! You have to go! Who is going to keep me entertained?”

“Your date maybe?” answered Liz.

Tess giggled. “Okay, maybe for a little while, but it won’t be the same as being with you! You’re my friend. My date is just going to be my hottie for the night.”

Michael groaned. “Tess! I didn’t need to hear that! And neither does a certain set of innocent ears!”

Tess sent him a mock glare. “Oh please, Michael Harding! I didn’t say anything incriminating and you know it!”

Turning back to Liz she said, “So? Who are you going to take?”

Kylan was the one who spoke up. “Mom! Why don’ you take Max?”

At that, Michael, Maria, and Tess smiled.

“Oh yes! Kylan’s right Liz. Ask Max to go to the Christmas party with you!” exclaimed Tess.

Liz shook her head. “No, that’s not a good idea, Tess.”

“Why not?” asked Kylan.

Liz looked at her son, who had come to a halt making both Maria and Michael stop walking too. “Because if I take Max, who is going to baby-sit you, huh?”

Maria grinned. “I can.”

Liz looked up at Maria. “What?”

Maria nodded. “Sure, why not? I’ve been Kylan’s babysitter before, so…”

“Yes! Mom you go wit’ Max an’ Ria can baby-sit me!” Kylan exclaimed as he jumped up and down excitedly.

“Maria, I don’t want to interfere with your winter vacation…”

“You aren’t Liz. I’m the one who’s volunteering.”

“You sure?” Liz asked as she glanced at Michael.

Both Michael and Maria nodded. “I can do it Liz.”

“Yeah, I think it’s a good idea, Liz. Maria can baby-sit Kylan and you can take Max to the Christmas party. I’ll even take the two of them out for dinner, so you don’t have to worry about Kylan not having something to eat. But I won’t stay at the apartment afterwards.” He winked at Maria. “I know the rules about babysitting.”

Liz shook her head. “Michael, I think I trust you enough not to do anything bad in my apartment.” She sighed, “It’s just…”

Tess shook her head, “Oh pooh! Stop trying to get out of this! It’s settled Liz. Maria is going to take care of Kylan and you are going to that office Christmas party with Max!”

Liz rolled her eyes. “I still have to ask Max, you know. He may not even want to go.”

“Well, you won’t know until you ask him. So, ask him!” replied Tess.

Maria chuckled. “Trust me Liz, I really don’t think Max will say no.”

“I agree,” said Michael.

“Me too!” added Kylan.

Liz knew she’d been outvoted and outsmarted. There was nothing she could do except go and ask Max to be her date for the office Christmas party. And nothing she could say for the rest of that afternoon could get her out of it.

************************************************************

Liz sat in her car staring up at the door to her apartment, absently twirling her ring around her finger. It was Monday evening and she knew she had to go in and get it over with. After that whole conversation with Tess, Maria, Michael, and Kylan Liz knew she couldn’t back out of it.

And when she’d showed up at work that morning, Tess had wanted to know what Max had said. Liz had told her that she hadn’t asked yet since things were too rushed that morning. Tess had given her a disbelieving look and had told Liz that if she showed up to work Tuesday morning without an answer, Tess wasn’t letting her into her office again until she asked him.

So, here she was finally home for the evening and she couldn’t get herself to get out of her car and go upstairs to her apartment. She sighed as she continued to twirl the ring around her finger. She didn’t understand why it was so important for her to go to this party and with Max no less. Max loved taking care of Kylan, what made them all think he’d rather go to the party with her than stay home and take care of her son?

With another hopeless sigh, she gathered up all her belongings and began to make her way to her apartment trying to bolster her courage along the way. Unlocking the door, she walked inside and set her things down near the table before heading to the kitchen. She knew that’s where Max would be finishing up dinner for her.

She walked into the kitchen to see Max standing at the stove with his back to her. She stood there for a few moments to get her bearings. Finally giving her ring one more twirl, she squared her shoulders and spoke.

“Max?”

Max turned around and gave her a smile. “Hey Liz. How was work today?”

She nodded absently. “It was okay. Listen, um…there’s something I have to ask you.”

Max set the pan down on the stove before walking towards her. “Something wrong?”

She shook her head, “No, it’s just the office Christmas party is in two weeks…”

He nodded, “And you need me to baby-sit Kylan?”

“Um, no that’s not it.”

He gave her a puzzled look. “Okay?” He waited for her to say something else, but when she seemed to just stand there looking awkward he asked, “Liz? Just say it.”

Max watched as she seemed to twist her ring around her finger before squaring her shoulders and looking straight at him right before she said, “Wouldyoubemydatefortheparty?”

He blinked in amazement. “Did you just…”

She nodded and even Max could see the faint blush spreading over her cheeks.

“Sure, I’ll go with you to the office party.”

Her eyes went wide. “You will?”

He nodded. “Yeah. Um, what’s going to happen to Kylan?”

“Maria said she’d baby-sit him that night.”

“Okay then, I’d love to go with you.”

Liz nodded again. “Okay, great. Um, I’ll tell you more about it when I get more details okay?”

“Okay.”

“Right.” She began to fidget. “Um, I’m just going to go change.”

Max nodded as she made her way out of the kitchen, literally fleeing to her bedroom. She wasn’t even aware of the twin blinding smiles currently being sported by Max in the kitchen and by her son, who was partially hidden behind his bedroom door.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:10 am

Part 11

Max frowned before he shook his head and began to try to remove his shirt. “This is all wrong!”

Alex rolled his eyes. “Max! Would you stop! There’s nothing wrong with the shirt!”

“It doesn’t go with the pants, Alex!”

“Yes it does. Max, you look fine! Would stop acting like this is the first date you’ve ever been on!”

“Well it is the first one.” When Alex swung his gaze to him as he looked at himself in the mirror, he clarified. “The first one with Liz that is.”

Alex grinned at that admission. Yep, it was indeed Max’s first date with Liz and it was obvious Max was nervous about it. That was the reason Alex was there helping him get ready for the date after all.

Max had called him as soon as he had the chance to tell him that Liz had asked him to be her date for the Christmas party her office was holding. As soon as he’d told Alex that, he’d then begged him to help him get the right outfit to wear to it. Max wanted to make a good impression. Not just to Liz, but to her fellow co-workers.

So, when Liz had given him the details of the party, he knew he had to get something that was slightly formal. Of course, he’d panicked the whole time he and Alex were out looking for an outfit for him since he wasn’t really used to dressing up much, but Alex’s cool head prevailed.

In the end, Alex had managed to talk Max into purchasing the current ensemble he was now wearing as he continued to survey himself in the mirror. Alex knew it was just nerves because as he saw it, Max looked good and he was hoping Liz would see it.

“Okay, well you shouldn’t worry so much. The outfit looks good. So now let’s put the finishing touches on it so you can be on your way to pick up your Cinderella.”

Max grinned. “Alex? You been taking up babysitting too? Since when do you watch cartoons?”

Alex rolled his eyes. “Whatever man! I have family who have little children that love to watch cartoons and besides that, everyone knows Cinderella, especially with the popularity of Disney. Unless of course, you’ve been living under a rock!”

Max laughed at that. “Sure, Al. Whatever you say man.”

Alex sighed. “Come on, let’s just finish getting you ready okay?”

************************************************************

“Now remember, Kylan has to be in bed by nine. And I’ve left the phone numbers you may need on the fridge. Oh and…”

“Liz!” Maria interjected. “It’s me. I took care of him for a year remember? Don’t worry about it, he’ll be fine.”

Liz sighed as she stepped away from her bathroom mirror where she was putting the finishing touches on her outfit. She moved to the doorway to look at Maria who was currently sitting on the edge of her bed. As soon as Maria saw her, she gaped.

“Oh wow! You look beautiful! Max is gonna have a heart attack!” Maria exclaimed.

Liz blushed. “No he’s not.”

“Oh yes he is!” She stood up and walked over to Liz. “And I love what you did to your hair! You seemed to have missed your calling.”

Liz chuckled. “It was just a few hot rollers and hair spray that’s all.”

“Well then you are even more talented than I imagined.”

Liz smoothed down the front of her dress. “Are you sure it’s okay? I have another dress that I was…”

Maria shook her head fervently. “No way are you changing! This dress is perfect. And with the hair and jewelry, it all brings out your skin tone really well.”

“Mom!”

Both women turned to look at the bedroom doorway when they’d heard the gasp. Kylan stood there smiling at his mother.

“You look so pretty mom!”

Maria grinned as she walked over to Kylan and slid her arm around his shoulders. “Yeah, she does doesn’t she? I told her Max was going to think so too.”

Kylan nodded his head vigorously. “Oh yes! Max is gonna think you look pretty too!”

Before Liz had a chance to answer, they all heard the knock at the front door.

“It’s gonna be Max! I’ll get it!” yelled Kylan as he ran out of the room.

Maria chuckled as she made her way out after him. “I’ll go keep my brother company until you’re ready, okay?”

“Thanks Maria,” replied Liz as she went back to smoothing down her dress.

************************************************************

“Wait til you see mom, Max! She’s pretty!”

Max grinned at Kylan’s enthusiasm as they sat in the living room waiting for Liz to come out of her bedroom. “I’ll take your word for it sport.”

Maria chuckled. “Oh you have no idea, do you?”

Max gave her a questioning look, but didn’t have a chance to ask her anything because Liz entered the room.

“Hi Max. Ready to go?”

Max turned to look at her as she walked into the room and suddenly his throat went dry. Now he knew just what his sister had been hinting at. Liz wasn’t just pretty, she was beautiful.

She wore a dark blue dress that reached just past her knees with a heart shaped bodice and off the shoulder sleeves. It was complemented by half inch heels that matched the color of her dress and a matching set of silver chains with blue stones at her neck, wrist, and ears. But the thing that floored him was the way her silky dark hair cascaded in loose curls over her shoulders.

His fingers itched to run through it, but he knew now wasn’t the time to do it. Neither was it time to do the myriad other things that were starting to run through his head at the sight of her in that dress.

“See? I tol’ you she was pretty!” came Kylan’s excited voice, breaking Max out of his reverie.

Max blinked and got himself under control. Swallowing, he made his way to Liz. “Yes, they’re right. You look beautiful.”

He didn’t miss the faint blush that stole across her features as she thanked him before turning to Kylan and saying good night to him. “Remember, you can’t stay up late with Michael and Maria! And you mind Maria, okay sweetie?”

“I know mom. I will.”

“Good. Now give me a kiss good night.”

************************************************************

“You know? I just don’t understand why you are here and not somewhere private so you can rip his clothes off!” muttered Tess, as she walked up to Liz who had just taken a drink of her champagne.

“What?” she sputtered, almost choking on her drink.

Tess tsked. “Oh come on! I excused you before, but not this time! The man is hot, Liz! How can you be so totally oblivious to it? Especially when every other woman in this room isn’t!”

Liz frowned as she looked in the direction where Max was. He was currently talking to a small group of people, most of whom just happened to be women. And from the looks of it, those closest to him appeared to almost be hanging on his every word.

Still, inwardly at least, she had to admit that Tess was right. Max did look good tonight. Dressed in black slacks with a matching jacket and a festive red shirt, he almost glowed. Liz had to admit that the red definitely made his skin seem very tanned and warm and it made his dark hair seem even darker and so lustrous. It made her curious to know if he would feel as soft and warm as he looked.

Liz shook her head to clear it of those thoughts that would lead to no good before turning to Tess. “Wait a minute. I thought you told me he wasn’t your type. And didn’t you bring your own hot date tonight? Where is Nick anyway?”

Ironically, Nick was Tess’ next door neighbor. He’d only moved in three months ago and Tess had thought he had a girlfriend. Turned out that the woman she had seen him with several times was his younger sister. So, as soon as she’d found out he was single, she’d asked him to the Christmas party. The blue eyed, light brown haired man with the dazzling smile and toned swimmers body had immediately accepted.

Tess grinned. “He needed some air.” She ignored Liz’s widened eyes as she went on, “And despite the fact that Nick is hot, I still think Max is too. I just said he wasn’t my type personality wise, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s still hot.”

“Right,” replied Liz.

“So, how come you are over here and not over there staking a claim?”

Liz sighed. “Tess, Max is my date for tonight, that’s all. I don’t own him.”

Tess rolled her eyes. “I’ll bet he’s wishing you did.”

Liz frowned at her. “Would you please stop! Max is my son’s babysitter. He adores Kylan and that’s all. He agreed to come with me tonight after he found out that Maria would be taking care of Kylan in his place.”

Tess stared at Liz for a moment before she huffed. “Is that the story you’re going to stick with?”

“Tess? You need another drink?” asked Nick as he moved up to her side.

Tess batted her eyelashes at him as she literally purred, “No, but I could use another turn around the dance floor.”

Nick flashed that dazzling smile of his as he offered her his arm, “Of course, my lady. Liz, if you’ll excuse us?”

Tess giggled as she slid her arm into his and let him lead her towards the dance floor. Turning to look at Liz over her shoulder she mouthed the words, “Go get your man!”

Liz rolled her eyes as she watched her friend begin to dance with her current fixation.

************************************************************

Max made his way out of the doors towards the patio area. He chose a spot that was relatively quiet and away from the rest of the partygoers. Standing there staring out at the night, he gave a sigh before taking a sip of his champagne.

Liz had seemed to be avoiding him all night. At least that’s the only way he could describe it. After he’d picked her up from her place, he’d driven them to the party where she’d introduced him to several of the people she worked with. He already knew Tess, who was as brash and entertaining as always. And she had introduced him to her date, Nick who had seemed like the perfect compliment to Tess’ personality.

Once Liz had introduced him to a lot of people, she had seemed to drift away from him, leaving him to fend for himself. Not that he couldn’t, but he wished he could be by her side. He envied Nick the fact that Tess didn’t seem to let him leave her side.

A few times Max had made his way to Liz’s side and asked if she wanted to dance or if she needed a new drink. Anything to stay with her, but she always had a ready answer and found a way to drift again. He took another sip of his drink as he tried to figure out why she was avoiding him especially since they had seemed to be having a pleasant conversation on the way to the party.

“Max Evans, right?” asked a voice from behind him.

Max turned in time to see a tall buxom blonde in a red dress that literally left almost nothing to the imagination walking towards him. She gave him a brilliant smile even as her eyes roamed up and down his form.

Nodding, he replied, “Yes and you are Liz’s boss.”

She came to stand in front of him. Leaning slightly forward to show off her ample cleavage, she held out her hand to him. “Yes I am. I’m Isabel Jacobson and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance Max.”

Max shook her hand and avoided looking down at her blatant offering. “It’s nice to meet you too, Miss Jacobson.”

She gave an airy laugh as she replied, “Oh no! That just won’t do! Please, it’s just Isabel.”

“Okay, Isabel.”

She batted her eyelashes at him. “That’s much better. So, tell me Max, how do you know Liz?”

He gave her a puzzled stare. “Didn’t she tell you? I take care of Kylan.”

“Oh! You’re the babysitter! I’d heard you were good-looking, but that was definitely an understatement.”

Max was glad the dim patio hid his blush as he responded, “You must have been talking to Tess.”

Isabel purred, “Guilty as charged.” She moved to his side and placed a hand on his shoulder. “So Max, I’m having an after party at my place after this, you interested?”

He moved to lean against the railing, effectively putting some space between him and Isabel. “I guess if Liz wants to go.”

Isabel chuckled as she moved close to him again. “Liz isn’t interested.” She leaned over to whisper into his ear. “But you are still invited to come on your own. I’m sure I can make it worth your while.”

Max looked down as she trailed a finger down his chest suggestively. Straightening up, he stepped away from her before looking into her eyes. “Look Isabel, I’m sure the party would be fun and you seem like a nice woman, but I’m just not interested in that. Thanks for the offer though.” He held up his glass to her as he finished, “You have a nice night, Miss Jacobson.”

With that clear denial which he hoped she got, he turned away from her and went back inside determined to find his date for the night. The one he wanted to enjoy the evening with. As soon as he spotted her, he made his way to her side and asked if she wanted to dance. This time Liz looked up at him with a smile and said she would be delighted to.

Max was glad she had agreed to dance with him this time and savored the feel of her in his arms. Throughout the entire dance, the two of them made small talk. She asked him how he was enjoying the party and if he’d gotten to know anyone there. They also agreed that Tess and Nick seemed like a potential couple, but it was still a little early to really tell.

After their dance, Max walked her back to the group she’d been talking with and remained by her side. This time he was pleasantly surprised when she kept her hand in the crook of his arm and included him in the conversation she was having with the others.

Half an hour later, Max spied Isabel on the other side of the room clearly looking at him and trying to get his attention. He ignored her despite the fact she seemed to be devouring him with her eyes. Instead, he focused on the petite woman at his side and the conversation they were having with their group.

A few minutes later Isabel seemed to have moved on and Max didn’t see her again for the rest of the night. Glad that he didn’t have to put up with her innuendos, he relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the night talking to Liz and her co-workers. They even spent some time talking to Tess and Nick.

Soon the party came to an end and Max took Liz home. All the way to her place, the two of them chattered about what a great time they had and about the people Max had gotten to know there. They were still laughing and chattering when the made their way up the stairs to Liz’s apartment.

As they made it to her front door, she chuckled before looking at Max with a smile. “Thanks for going to the party with me, Max. I had a great time.”

Max nodded. “I had a great time too. Thanks for inviting me.”

She gave a nod in acknowledgement before putting her key into the lock. “So, I guess I’ll see you Monday then?”

“Yeah, I’ll be here, like always.”

“Okay.” She opened the door and stepped in. Turning around she gave him another smile. “Goodnight Max, drive safely.”

“Night Liz,” came his reply, before he waited until she had closed the door.

************************************************************

Kylan couldn’t wait to find out the answer. After his mother had tucked him into bed and then gone to bed herself, he’d waited impatiently until Kyle had finally shown up. The moment he did, Kylan asked the question.

“So? Did they?”

Kyle shook his head sadly. “No Kylan, they didn’t.”

Kylan frowned. “What? But why?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he was being very polite or maybe she didn’t encourage him to.”

Kylan threw his hands in the air. “You said he’d kiss her tonight!”

“Sometimes these things take time.”

“But they’ve had time! Lots of it! Maybe I should just tell Max to do it!”

Kyle shook his head. “No Kylan, you can’t tell Max anything okay? Just let Max do this on his own time. And he will kiss your mother, Kylan. I know he will. Just wait a little longer okay?”

The boy pouted. “M’kay, but it better not take too long or I’m gonna go tell Max to kiss mommy myself!”

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:15 pm

Part 12

“Liz? Could you come to my office please? And bring the Cochran file.”

Liz pressed the button on her intercom to respond to Isabel’s request. “I’ll right there Isabel.”

She walked over to the table where she did her work for her current clients and gathered up all of the information pertaining to the Cochrans. As soon as she had everything she needed, she walked thorough the horseshoe shaped building until she got to Isabel’s office which was on the other side of the enormous one story building that housed the offices of Lachlan’s Interior Design Inc.

The building itself had been designed by the owners of the company and set up so that the heads of each team had offices on one side of the building while the other members of the team had their offices on the other side of the building. Clients were greeted by a beautiful waterfall wall designed to look natural with rocks and plants interspersed throughout it. The waterfall was in the center of the horseshoe and surrounded by a cobblestone walkway and a few stone benches.

Once the clients walked past the waterfall, they entered the blue tinted sliding glass doors which housed the comfortable looking foyer complete with large couches, chairs, and coffee tables. Fake trees and magazines were interspersed throughout the room and there was even a small television mounted on one corner so that potential clients could relax while they waited for their appointments if they had to.

Just opposite of the doors and at the end of the foyer was the long rectangular desk which housed two secretaries to greet the clients. The company was big enough and busy enough that they needed more than one person to greet clients, answer phones, and do any other things the job required.

Each head of teams had their own personal secretary who sat outside their offices while the teams usually had one secretary per two team members. That wasn’t always the case though, sometimes there was only two secretaries to serve a team of ten or more. So far Liz had been lucky enough to only have to share a secretary with Tess, her teammate.

Behind the desk that housed the two secretaries that greeted clients was a tall stained glass wall that divided the front area from the meeting rooms where clients and designers often met when they needed a lot of room to spread their materials. There were a total of six meeting rooms which housed oblong tables with plenty of high backed chairs and a generous amount of light. These were the rooms where all of the ideas and designs were born.

Liz had to walk through the hall that divided the meeting rooms to get to the other side where the head of teams offices were located. Currently two of the rooms were occupied with designers and their potential clients. She continued down the curved hallway, past a few of the other head of teams offices before she reached Isabel’s which was about two offices from the end.

She knocked on the door and waited until she heard Isabel’s voice telling her to enter. Opening the door, she walked up to Isabel’s desk and handed her the file.

“The Cochran file as requested.”

Isabel gave her a smile. “Thank you, have a seat would you?”

Liz sat down in the chair Isabel had motioned to and waited as her boss began to look through the file. Isabel nodded a few times as she looked over some papers before she finally looked up at Liz.

“Well done Liz! It looks like this project is shaping up nicely. The Cochrans haven’t been giving you any headaches have they?”

Liz shook her head. “No they’ve been very satisfied with the plans for remodeling their kitchen and baths. We’ve been lucky enough to have a plumbing company that knows what they are doing. Mrs. Cochran told me that there have been a few minor hiccups, but nothing the plumbing employees couldn’t solve on the spot or within a few days.”

“Good. That’s good to hear. I know it’s nice when a project isn’t such a hassle. Not like the Vasquez were.”

Liz grimaced at the reminder of one of the worst projects to date. The Vasquez came from a line of old money in Spain. This particular couple had moved to Texas since Mr. Vasquez had gotten a ludicrous job offer to work there. So, he moved his family to Texas and brought a huge house which he left to his wife to make into something they would want to occupy.

Since Mr. Vasquez was always working, Mrs. Vasquez was the one who did the entire remodeling of the house. She was a bored housewife with two children that were always cared for by their nannies. It seemed it was her mission in life to lord it over anyone who worked for her. She wasn’t intentionally mean, it was just the way she had been raised. Liz couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kids who would more likely grow up with the same mentality as their parents.

Still, she and Tess had breathed a huge sigh of relief and gone out for a night of drinking after they had wiped their hands clean of a job that had taken nearly a year to complete. It was still a sore memory for Tess.

“So, any idea how much longer it will take to complete this remodeling?”

“We’re looking at about another month if things keep going as smoothly as they have been.”

“Okay, that’s reasonable.” She handed the file back to Liz as she asked. “So, did you enjoy the Christmas party this year?”

Liz nodded. “Yes I did. It was wonderful as usual.”

Isabel chuckled. “I’ll be sure and let the brass know you enjoyed yourself. I’m sure your date enjoyed himself too.”

“I think he did. At least I haven’t heard him say anything bad about it.”

“That’s good to hear. So, how long have you been dating him? You never talk about him the way Tess has been talking about Nick lately, so you can imagine the surprise most of us felt when you introduced him to us. I think most of us assumed you’d still be dating what was his name…Jesse?”

Liz rolled her eyes. “I haven’t been dating Jesse for months now. And I’m not dating Max either. He’s my son’s babysitter and I needed a date for the party. He agreed to go with me since we managed to get his younger sister to baby-sit Kylan for the night. She’s back in town for the holidays and she agreed to do it. I don’t think Max would have gone to the party with me if Kylan wasn’t left in good hands.”

“Oh! I’m sorry. I didn’t know that. It’s just that the two of you seemed so comfortable with each other that I thought you had been dating him for a while.”

Liz shook her head. “Nope.”

“I see. Well, he must have a lucky lady waiting for him somewhere else then.”

Liz sighed. “No he doesn’t.”

At Isabel’s shocked look, she continued. “Yeah, I know. Even Tess was shocked to find out that Max is single. He claims he’s too busy working to have time for dating.”

“Is that so? Well, he certainly seemed to work the crowd at the party. I heard several others say he was a very charming, charismatic man.”

“Yeah, I don’t think Max is aware of that though. He doesn’t seem to be aware of the way he seems to attract others to him.”

Isabel chuckled. “A humble man then. Well, that’s too bad. I would have liked to know him a little better. After all, he certainly left a good impression on me.”

Liz quirked an eyebrow. “Are you interested in him?”

Isabel shrugged. “It’s like you said. He is a very charming, charismatic man. I’m only drawn to him the way everyone else seemed to be.”

Liz simply looked at Isabel for a moment unaware of the thoughts roaming through the blonde vixen’s head.

************************************************************

Max resisted the urge to loosen his tie. He couldn’t believe he had agreed to this again. At least the last time Liz had set him up on a date, she had been there too. This time, he was on his own. As he walked up the stairs towards the ornate front door, he mentally kicked himself for giving in to those puppy dog eyes and pouting lip of hers.

Despite his reluctance to go on a date with Isabel Jacobson, he’d done it for Liz. Because somehow she’d convinced him that going on a date with her boss would benefit all of them. He honestly couldn’t see how. Schooling himself, he rang the doorbell and listened as it chimed through the house.

A few moments later, the door opened to reveal a scantly dressed Isabel. She graced him with a sultry smile as her eyes roamed over him, obviously with blatant approval. Unable to stand there and look at him like a piece of meat she wanted to devour, he stepped back and motioned with his arm.

“Ready to go Miss Jacobson?”

She laughed airily. “Oh Max, didn’t I tell you to call me Isabel?”

He nodded. “Of course, shall we go Isabel?”

She picked up her hand bag and draped a shawl over her shoulders before stepping outside. “Ready when you are, Max.”

Max waited for her to close and lock the door before leading her to his car. He opened the door for her and helped her in before going to his side. As he pulled away from the driveway, Isabel turned to him with her trademark smile.

“So, where are we going?”

Max didn’t look away from the road as he replied, “I thought we’d have some dinner and maybe a movie afterwards.”

Isabel chuckled. “That sounds nice.”

************************************************************

It wasn’t nice. Not in the least. At least it wasn’t to Isabel. When Max said he was taking her to dinner, she’d expected something more than the hole in the wall pizza place he took her to. She was lucky the even served salads there. As Max ate the small pizza he’d ordered for himself, she mainly pushed her house salad around on her plate.

Conversation had been really limited since every time Isabel tried to start a conversation with him, he didn’t seem very big on words. That and the fact that they had absolutely nothing in common. She even tuned him out when he finally started talking a lot because it was about Kylan whom Max seemed to act as if he were his son.

After dinner, Max had asked if she wanted to go see a movie. She’d smiled and asked if he would rather go to her place and watch movies there, but he assured her she’d enjoy where he was going to take her. She gave into his smile and manners and allowed him to take her to the movies.

It turned out to be a movie at the park. Movies under the stars it was called. As Max pulled the blanket out from his trunk and led her to a place to sit on the ground. She’d pasted a fake smile on her lips. The movie was just starting when they arrived, so they didn’t have time to say much while Max spread the blanket and helped her to get comfortable.

Isabel wasn’t interested in the movie at all. Instead, she did her best to move closer to Max, trying to get his attention to center on her.

“Max?” she whispered.

Max, who had been watching the movie with interest, turned to look at her. “Hm?”

“Do you mind if we cut this short?”

“Why? What’s wrong?” he asked, eyes clearly showing concern now.

She shook her head. “It’s nothing really, but I don’t feel very comfortable here.”

“Oh! I’m sorry Isabel. Um would you rather go somewhere else?”

She gave him a grateful smile. “You don’t mind?”

He shook his head and rose to help her up. A few minutes later and they were back in his car.

As he started the engine he turned to ask her, “So, where should we go?”

Isabel ran her hands down the edge of her dress. “Would you mind if we go to my place? I’d like to change out of this dress.”

Max gave her a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry Isabel. Maybe I should have warned you that we were going places that weren’t really suited for a dress like that.”

She shook her head as he pulled out of the parking space. “It’s okay. It wasn’t so bad.”

************************************************************

Isabel motioned for Max to take a seat on her leather couch. “I’ll be right back. Do you want something to drink while you wait?”

Max shook his head, “I’m good.”

She smiled. “Okay, I’ll only be a few minutes.”

When she left the room, Max sat there and let his gaze roam around the area. It was obvious that she was getting paid well at her job. Everything in the place looked expensive and strategically placed, a clear sign of the work of an interior designer. From the expensive light brown leather furniture to the state of the art entertainment center. And all of the ornaments on the furniture and walls indicated the touch of a woman.

He was still taking in the elaborateness of it all when she returned. It wasn’t until she was fully in the room and making her way to sit next to him that he realized what she was wearing.

In nothing more than a short red kimono and her hair piled up on her head, she sat down as close to him as possible. Max couldn’t help but notice the stockings she wore and the fact that they were clearly held up by a garter belt. Her kimono was slightly loosened, enough to give him a perfect view of her ample cleavage if he looked down at her. And she was sitting so close to him that he had no choice but to look down.

He swallowed. “Do you, um do you need some more time?”

She laughed huskily as she pressed into his side. “No. I’m comfortable now.” She lifted a finger and ran it along his jaw as she leaned in to purr into his ear. “We should see about getting you comfortable too.”

Max shifted slightly so that he could look into her eyes as well as to put some space between them. “I’m comfortable enough, thanks.”

She gave him a sultry smile as she looked up at him through lowered eyelashes. “Oh come on Max. I’m sure there’s something else we can do to get you comfortable. Say remove some of those constricting clothes.”

As she said the last part, her fingers brushed over the front of his jeans. Max immediately sprang to his feet and looked down at her. “My clothes are just fine thank you!”

Isabel sat back and pouted. She placed her arms over the back of the couch and spread her legs slightly, giving him a perfect view of what she was offering him. “Are you sure?” she asked. “I could make you feel really good, you know.”

Max resisted the urge to gag at the sight of her exposing herself to him. Granted, Isabel was a gorgeous woman and she well knew it. But she wasn’t the one Max was interested in. His skin crawled as he watched her devouring him with her eyes.

Frowning, he stood his ground as he gave her a serious look. “I’m sure you could, but as I said before I’m not interested in what you’re offering. And I can clearly see you aren’t interested in going back out again. So, if it’s all the same to you, I’m going to call it a night and leave before it gets out of hand. Have a good night, Miss Jacobson.”

Without another word, he turned on his heel and walked out of her house, shutting the door firmly behind him.

************************************************************

Liz walked into the kitchen where Max was currently putting away the now clean dishes from dinner. She stood there looking at him as he continued to work, a small frown clearly visible on his face. He’d been quiet and sullen when she’d gotten home from work that Monday evening, making her wonder if something had happened during the afternoon with Kylan to put Max in such a mood.

“Max? You okay?” she asked.

She saw the sudden tensing of his shoulders, but he continued to put the dishes away without looking at her. “I’m fine.”

She sighed as she sat down in a chair at the kitchen table. “You sure?”

“Yes,” came his short reply.

Liz didn’t say anything else for a few minutes as she watched him move around the kitchen. When he finished putting away the last of the dishes and set the towel in the sink, she said, “I didn’t get a chance to ask Isabel, but how did the date go?”

Max’s hand froze in mid-air for a moment before he leaned over the sink with his hands gripping the sides of the counter. His back was to her, but Liz was aware of the extra tenseness of his body.

“Max?” she whispered.

“What do you want from me Liz?”

Liz frowned at the sound of anger and something else she could hear in his voice. Alarmed, she rose to her feet and made her way to his side. “Max what happened?”

He whirled around to face her and she gasped at the look in his eyes. “You want to know what happened?” he hissed at her. “Do you even know what your boss is capable of? Or wait, did she threaten your job if I didn’t go out with her? I’m surprised she hasn’t said anything to you! I would have thought she would have told you to get me to sleep with her or you could kiss your job goodbye!”

Liz stumbled back at the vehemence in his voice. “W-what are you saying?” she stuttered.

“Oh please! You can’t tell me you set me up with that woman just because you felt like it! She must have been holding something over your head to get me to go out with her!”

Liz shook her head. “No. She just said she was interested in going out with you, so I thought I’d get you to go on a date with her.”

He glared at her. “Well, do me a favor! Don’t ever set me up on a date with anyone else again. Ever!”

She nodded slowly. “O-okay. Max I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it would turn out so badly. She didn’t seem upset about it when I saw her today.”

Max growled. “Yeah well she wasn’t the one who was that close to being propositioned was she?”

Liz gaped at him. “What!”

He nodded. “Yeah, you can’t tell me you didn’t know your boss was capable of such a thing! You can’t be that oblivious to her so called charms!”

She shook her head. “Wait, are you saying she tried to…to…”

“That’s right!” he snapped. “The woman tricked me into taking her back to her place just so she could seduce me! She never wanted to go out on a date Liz! All she wanted was sex!”

Liz glanced in the direction of the door, worried that Max’s rising voice would reach her son’s room. “Max, please, not so loud.”

“Fine! I’m done anyway! I’m out of here! Tell Kylan I’ll see him tomorrow.”

Liz watched as he stormed out of the kitchen before she followed him. He grabbed his jacket and yanked it on before picking up his bag and jerking the door open. Liz reached out and placed her hand on his arm.

“Max!” she begged. It was enough to make him stop.

“Max, I’m so sorry! I honestly had no idea she would do that to you! I just…God, I’m sorry!” she cried.

Max stood there for a few more moments before he looked over his shoulder at her. “I know you are Liz. I know. I’m sorry too.”

She watched as he moved away from her, towards the stairs. Her hand fell to her side as tears welled up in her eyes. Her heart went out to him and the hurt she’d seen in his eyes when he’d given her that last look before he’d walked away.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:14 pm

RESPONSE TO FEEDBACK ON PREVIOUS PAGE

Part 13

Liz frowned as she sat at the table watching the others getting ready to celebrate the coming New Year. Twirling her ring around her finger, she wondered what had possessed her to spend New Year’s Eve at this party with none other than Jesse Ramirez. Then again, she knew exactly why she had decided to take up his offer to the party.

Liz had spent the last few years at her mother’s house popping fireworks in the backyard with her mother and Kylan. Before that, she’d been in New York where she had always spent New Year’s on the rooftop of the building Kyle’s parents had lived in. So it wasn’t any wonder that she jumped at the chance to actually spend a New Year’s out at a real party.

Still, if she got right down to it, she knew it was because she hadn’t wanted to deal with the awkward silence that existed between her and Max ever since he had told her about his date with Isabel. Michael had invited Max, Maria, Liz, and Kylan to pop fireworks in his backyard this year so everyone had decided to go there. However, Liz had declined Michael’s offer saying she already had plans, but allowed them to take Kylan while she was at the party. Tess had also been invited, but she was at another party with Nick.

So, Max and Maria had picked up Kylan from Liz’s apartment and gone on to Michael’s while Liz had waited for Jesse to pick her up. Needless to say, Maria had been the only one who spoke to Liz in full sentences while Max just spent his time with Kylan. After they had left, Liz had been glad she’d accepted Jesse’s invite since Max was still not really talking to her.

Now, a few minutes to midnight and Liz was wishing she was back at home under her covers eating a tub of Rocky Road ice cream and watching Rocking New Year’s on her small television. Frowning, she watched as Jesse gave a high five to his friend as they won the pool game they’d been playing against two other guys. As soon as they had collected their winnings, Jesse returned to the table Liz was sitting at with a few other friends of his.

He grinned at her as he sat down next to her. “You need another drink?”

Liz shook her head. “I’m good.”

“You sure? You gotta have something to toast with you know. It’s almost midnight.”

She nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

He shrugged and slid one arm over the back of her chair. “Suit yourself.”

“Hey Jesse! Good to see you here man!”

Jesse turned his head and chuckled. “Louis! I told you I was coming.”

Louis walked up to Jesse and bumped fists with him in greeting. “Yeah, and with a date no less! So, who’s your girlfriend?”

Jesses chuckled. “This is Liz Parker. Liz, this is Louis Aragon, a friend of mine from work.”

Liz shook the hand he offered her. “Hello.”

Louise grinned. “Oh so you are the Liz Parker he’s been talking about since I’ve met him. It’s great to finally put a face to the name.”

Jesse laughed. “Yeah, she’s the one.”

Liz frowned at the implications of that statement, but before she could say anything, the voice of the announcer boomed through the place.

“All right ladies and gentlemen, it is now time to grab your drinks and your dates to get ready to ring in the New Yearrrrrr! Come on everyone on your feet and on the floor for the countdown!”

Jesse stood up and took Liz’s hand in his, helping her to her feet.

“Jesse, why don’t we just stay back here.” Liz tried to say over the music that once more filled the place, but Jesse didn’t hear her as he followed his friends to the center of the place where everyone seemed to be gathering for the countdown.

As they came to a stop in the crowd, Jesse wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her in closer, raising his glass in the air like everyone else was doing. He turned to look down at Liz with a smile, but it faded slightly when he realized she didn’t have her drink.

“Hey? Where’s your drink? How are you gonna toast with no drink?” he yelled over the noise.

“I thought we were just going to sit at the table!” she shouted back.

“We’ll go sit down after the countdown.”

She sighed as she absently twirled her ring around her finger. Jesse had obviously misunderstood what she meant. She stood there surrounded by the crowd as the announcer spoke once more.

“Alright people ready or not, here we go! Ten, nine, eight…”

Jesse tightened his hold on her as he took up the chant along with the rest of the crowd. “Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!”

As the lights blinked on and off and a mixture of balloons and confetti rained down from the ceiling, shouts of “Happy New Year!” rang throughout the room.

Jesse clinked glasses with several of his friends before taking a swallow and leaning down to Liz with a smile. “Happy New Year, baby!”

Liz frowned at those words. “Tell me you’re not drunk,” she shouted over the din.

He laughed. “I’m not drunk!” He pulled her close to him and kissed her. When he tried to deepen the kiss, Liz pushed against his chest until he’d let her go. She glared at him as he gave her a puzzled look.

“What’s wrong?”

She growled at him. “You’re drunk!”

He chuckled. “Liz, I said I’m not drunk.”

“Yes you are! I can taste the alcohol and you don’t call me baby! I’m not your girlfriend remember!”

He sighed. “Yeah, I know.”

“Do you? How come everyone seems to think I am.”

“Who thinks that?”

She threw her arms wide. “Everyone! They keep asking you who your girlfriend is and you haven’t told them otherwise!”

He shrugged. “What’s the big deal? You’re a girl and you’re my friend. So?”

“Jesse,” she growled. “I know they aren’t thinking of it that way!”

He tried to give her a charming smile as he walked towards her. “Liz, baby.”

She jabbed his chest with her finger, punctuating each word. “I. Am. Not. Your. Baby!” Moving away from him she threw her hands in the air, “That’s it! You’re drunk! I’m going home!”

As she stalked away from him, he scurried after her. “Wait! Liz, I’m not drunk!”

************************************************************

Maria and Max looked up from the couch as they heard the hushed argument going on at the door of Liz’s apartment. They looked at each other a moment before getting up and going to see what was the matter. As they rounded the door to the hall, they could see that Jesse was obviously trying to placate an aggravated Liz.

“Come on Liz, you know I’m not drunk. I got you home in one piece didn’t I?”

“Yeah, I’m giving that one to years of practice in a college fraternity!”

“Honey, the night’s still young don’t send me home yet!”

“No Jesse, it’s after midnight and I have a son to worry about! Goodnight!” she started to close the door, but he put his hand out to stop it from closing.

“Come on baby just…”

“God Jesse! For the last time, I am not your baby!” she hissed.

“Liz? You okay?” asked Max as he walked up behind her.

Liz sighed as she ran her fingers through her now disheveled hair. “Yeah, I’m just tired.” She looked up at Jesse. “Goodnight.”

“Liz…”

“She said goodnight,” growled Max, as Maria went to stand on the other side of Liz and folded her arms over her chest.

Jesse ignored him. “Come back out with me. You can sleep all day tomorrow…”

“I can’t.”

“She has a seven year old son remember? No way is she going to be able to sleep all day!” replied Max with a roll of his eyes.

Jesse sent a glare Max’s way before looking back at Liz. “Isn’t that why he’s here? To take care of your son so you can have a life.”

Maria gaped at him as Max took a step towards him. Liz quickly stepped in front of Max, stopping him with a hand to his chest even as she glared at Jesse. “For your information, Kylan is my life! Now, if you’ll excuse me! I have a life to get back to!”

With that she pushed Jesse back and shut the door on his protests. Turning around she sighed once more and looked up at Max. “Thanks,” she said.

He simply nodded and walked away without saying anything. Maria looked from Max to Liz and back again. She knew why her brother was acting the way he was with Liz and she didn’t blame him for feeling hurt about it. Now, she stood there and watched the myriad of emotions flit across Liz’s face as Max walked away from her.

Giving Liz a sympathetic smile, she rubbed her arm affectionately. “You sure you okay?”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, just tired. It was a long day.”

“You want me to stay over? I can take care of Kylan when he wakes up so you can rest a bit more.”

Liz shook her head. “No thanks. I’ll be okay. Besides, I promised him we’d have a day of movies and Chuck E. Cheese’s.”

Maria laughed. “Oh boy! Yeah, can’t go back on that can we?”

Liz returned her laugh. “Nope, I pinky swore.”

Maria’s eyes widened in mock horror. “Ooooh! You are so busted!”

Liz gave a tired laugh. “Thanks for taking Kylan for the night. Did he enjoy himself?”

Maria nodded as she followed Liz into the kitchen. “Yeah, he had so much fun. But I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it tomorrow. I got plenty of picture too, so I’ll give you a copy when I get them developed.”

“Okay, thanks.”

“No problem.”

Liz set her purse on the table. “Um, how much do I owe you two?”

Maria shook her head. “Uh uh. Tonight was free and you know it! We were just a bunch of friends hanging out tonight and nothing else.”

Liz frowned. “You sure?”

“Yes.”

Liz looked towards the living room where she knew Max was waiting. “But Max…”

“Max agreed to do this too, Liz. We already told you that. Don’t worry about it.” She walked over to Liz and gave her a hug. “We should get going. Let you get some sleep. You’re gonna need your energy for tomorrow.”

Liz returned her hug. “Okay, thanks again Maria.”

“You’re welcome. We’ll let ourselves out okay?”

“Okay. Tell Max thank you for me?”

Maria nodded as she walked away from Liz and out of the kitchen. A few moments later Liz heard the sound of her front door closing and the lock clicking.

************************************************************

Kylan sat in his bed with a frown on his face. He’d been awake when his mother had gotten home and had heard the whole thing. He’d even managed to sneak a peek out of his bedroom door in time to see the way Max was still not talking to his mom.

Something bad had happened. He knew that, but he didn’t know what it was. Whatever it was had made Max mad at his mom and now he wasn’t really talking to her. Kylan had tried to find out what had happened, but no one seemed to be talking about it.

When he’d asked Max if he was mad at his mom, Max had said it wasn’t her that he was mad at. However, he wouldn’t say anything else about it. So Kylan had tried to ask first Maria then Michael if they knew if Max was mad at his mom.

Both of them said Max wasn’t mad at her, but he was upset about something else. They told him that Max was a big boy and he would take care of his own problems. Still, Kylan knew they were hiding something and he was going to do his best to find out what it was.

“Kyl, shouldn’t you be asleep?” asked Kyle as he appeared next to the bed.

Kylan frowned up at him. “Maybe Max is just mad at mom for being friends wit’ Jesse still? I saw ‘em at the door. I know Max doesn’ like Jesse.”

Kyle shook his head. “Max doesn’t like Jesse, but that’s not why he’s mad at your mom. Besides, Jesse hasn’t exactly been nice to Max has he?”

Kylan glared down at his bedspread. “He’s not nice to anyone. I don’ think he’s nice to mom too.”

“Well…” hedged Kyle.

Kylan looked up at him. “Why is she still wit’ him?”

“She’s known him for a while now, Kylan.”

“So? I don’ think mom likes him too.”

“Not that way Kylan. They are friends, but…”

“She’s friends wit’ Max!”

Kyle sighed as he sat on the edge of the bed and looked Kylan in the eyes. “Look, I know I’m not doing a very good job explaining this, but your mom doesn’t like Jesse the way you think she does, okay? They are nothing more than friends. They’ve known each other for a long time, so they hang out with each other. Now, what your mom feels for Max is a little different. She is friends with him yes, but it’s a different kind of friendship.”

Kylan frowned. “There’s different kinds?”

“Yep. You’re friends with Michael and Max right?”

“Uh huh.”

“And you’re also friends with Tommy and David too?”

“Yep.”

“Okay, now isn’t what you feel for Michael and Max different than what you feel for the other two?”

Kylan stared at Kyle for a few moments before he finally nodded in understanding. “Yeah! It is different.”

Kyle grinned. “See, so now you know your mom feels different about Jesse and Max.”

Kylan nodded. “Yeah, I git it.” He sighed as the smile faded. “But she don’ feel about him like we want her to huh?”

Even Kyle’s smile faded. “No, at least not yet.” He looked up at the sad look on Kylan’s face. “Hey! Don’t give up hope just yet. We’ll find another way to get them together. I know we will.”

Kylan sighed. “I know. I’m not givin’ up. I just wish he’d kiss her already. I know he wants to! If he kisses her then she will feel the way we want her to!”

Kyle chuckled. “Maybe, but they have to be ready for it Kylan. We can’t make them do it until they are ready for it.”

“Well, how do we know when they are ready?”

“Oh, I think we’ll know.”

************************************************************

“Liz? You okay?” asked Tess as she poked her head into Liz’s office to see her staring at the wall with a frown, unaware that she was twirling her ring around her finger.

Liz looked up at her. “Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m fine.”

Tess walked into the office. “You sure? You seemed a little preoccupied all day. I don’t think you heard everything that went on at the two meetings this morning.”

Liz sighed as Tess sat in a chair opposite her desk. “Yeah, sorry. There’s nothing that I can do about it anyway.”

Tess quirked an eyebrow. “Let me guess. Does this have anything to do with Jesse?”

Liz growled. “No, thank God!”

Tess just looked at her for a few moments before she leaned in. “So, it’s Max then.”

Liz blinked at the way Tess just knew how to narrow down the choices so easily. When she remained silent, Tess nodded.

“I see. So, want to tell me what it is about Max that’s bothering you?”

Liz frowned as she looked towards the door before looking back at Tess. “I don’t know if this is a good place to talk about it.”

Tess’ eyes widened for a moment before she got up and closed the door. Turning the lock, she made her way back to the chair and sat down in it. Looking Liz square in the eyes she nodded. “Okay, we’re secure now. So, spit it out.”

Liz sighed. “Something happened to Max when he went out with Isabel.”

Tess sat up straighter. “Wait! Back up a bit. Are you saying Max went out with Isabel like on a date? Our boss, Isabel?”

Liz nodded. At Tess’ shocked look, Liz elaborated. “Apparently Isabel was impressed with Max when she met him at the Christmas office party. She hinted that she was interested in going out with him, so I set them up.”

Tess gaped at her. “You set them up?”

“Yes.”

She shook her head in sympathy. “Oh Liz. That was a bad idea, a really bad idea.”

Liz frowned at her. “You knew what she’d do?”

“Huh?”

“You just said it was a bad idea, like you knew what she would do.”

Tess gave her a puzzled look. “What did she do?”

“You just said you knew!”

“No, I just said it was a bad idea to set Max up with her. It’s a bad idea to set Max up with anyone, but…” she paused just before she let the wrong thing slip out.

“But what?”

Tess shook her head. “Nothing. So, what did Isabel do to Max?”

Liz sighed again as she sat back in her chair and looked down at her desk. “Turns out all she wanted was to sleep with Max.”

Tess gasped. “Did she?”

Liz shook her head. “No, Max took her out on a date and she tricked him into going back to her place where she tried to get him to sleep with her. Apparently she had already asked him that at the party and he turned her down.”

“Oh my!” squeaked Tess.

“Yeah, he didn’t tell me that until after I’d asked him how the date with Isabel had gone. By that point, he was angry and yelling at me about how he thought maybe the reason I got him to go out with Isabel was because she threatened to fire me unless he did. He said I must have known what her plans were because he’d known what Isabel wanted from him the moment he’d met her, so why wouldn’t I.”

“But you didn’t did you?”

“No, of course not. When she asked me about Max, it wasn’t anything weird. It was almost the same thing you had asked me when you’d been interested in dating him. It was my idea to set them up, not hers.”

Tess frowned at that. Somehow she had a notion that Isabel had found a way to implant that suggestion into Liz’s mind. Inwardly she growled. The woman was going to pay for that if that was true!

“He was really angry Tess. I tried to apologize and tell him that I had no idea that sex was all she’d wanted from him and he told me never to set him up on a date ever again.”

Tess sighed. “Well, I hope you learned your lesson.”

She nodded. “I did, but he’s still mad Tess. I can’t get him to talk to me for more a few seconds even though nothing has changed between him and Kylan. I’ve apologized again and again, but he still won’t talk to me that much.”

Tess sighed. “Maybe he just needs some time. It sounds like it might have been really bad. If it was, then maybe he is still trying to get over it.”

Liz shrugged. “Maybe. I just wish there was something I could do.”

“I know you do. Just give him some time. He’ll come around. I know he will.”

Liz nodded as Tess got up from the chair and went to hug her. “It’s going to be okay, Liz.”

She hugged her friend back. “Thanks Tess.”

“You’re welcome, hon.” She pulled back and looked into her eyes. “You feeling a little better now?”

Liz chuckled. “Yeah, a little.”

“Good, so you think you can concentrate on getting some work done now?”

Liz laughed at that. “Yes ma’am. I think I can.”

Tess grinned. “Okay then, I’ll let you get back to it.”

With that she walked out of Liz’s office and headed into hers. Shutting the door behind her, she went to her desk and sat down as thoughts about what she was going to do to help Liz and Max swirled around in her head.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Apr 22, 2007 7:27 pm

Part 14

Tess grinned as she made her way back to her office. Her plan had worked to perfection. In fact, it had worked better than she’d thought it would. Now, all she had to do was wait for the right moment before she went to tell Liz the good news. Although she knew the one who might like this news better would be Max since Isabel had gone after him.

Still, Tess was doing this as a favor to both of them. She knew how Max felt for Liz and with Isabel out of the way, maybe Max would forgive Liz and they could work their way closer together. At least she hoped this was going to be beneficial to the two of them. If not, she was seriously considering just locking them up together until one of them finally confessed how they really felt.

It wasn’t even an hour later when she practically skipping down to Liz’s office to see if she had heard. Poking her head around the door, she spied Liz staring at her computer and frowning.

“Liz? What’s wrong?” she asked as she pushed the door open further to walk into the room.

Liz looked up at Tess and blinked. “Huh?”

Tess chuckled as she shut the door. “Oh, let me guess, working hard again.”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, trying to figure out what kind of options to give the Carr’s for their new kitchen layout.”

“I see.”

As Tess sat down in a chair Liz asked, “What’s up?”

Tess shrugged. “I just thought I’d come and see if you heard the news.”

“What news?”

Tess grinned. “We’re short one boss.”

Liz frowned. “What?”

“Isabel.”

“Isabel? Are you saying she’s not our boss anymore?”

“Yep. That’s what I’m saying.”

“Did she get promoted or…”

Tess laughed and shook her head. A few moments later, the look on her face turned serious as she said, “Someone anonymous told the company owners that she was using her position to bully others into doing personal favors for her, so she was fired.”

“Really? Like sexual harassment?”

“Well, more like pimping for her.”

Liz’s eyes went wide. “What!”

Tess shrugged.

The way Tess seemed nonchalant about it made Liz narrow her eyes. “Tess? What did you do?”

“What do you mean?” she asked innocently.

“Don’t give me that look! It was you wasn’t it? You turned her in!”

Tess sighed. “Well, it wasn’t that hard. I just did a little research and found some things to use as evidence and what do you know? It worked.”

“Evidence? What evidence could there possibly be?”

“Well, there were cameras the night of the Christmas party and we got lucky enough to get Isabel and Max on camera.” At Liz’s gasp, Tess went on. “You could clearly see that she was propositioning him and he was not happy about it. It even shows him saying something very direct to her before he walks away.”

“And that’s all they needed to fire her?”

“Well that and the fact that I told them what you told me she did to you, which led to you setting her and Max up.”

“I still don’t see how…”

“Trust me Liz, it worked. I told them Isabel tricked you into setting her up with Max after he had already flat out said no. They have the film to prove that. Plus, when they called her in to talk to her, someone went to her office and found out that she was planning on messing up one of your accounts to force you into talking to Max again.”

Liz shook her head. “I don’t believe this! Are you saying she was going to blackmail me!”

Tess nodded. “Yep. She was in the process of it when they called her to them. So, with all that evidence and my testimony, they told her to get her stuff and get out. Of course, they asked me if I could ask you to give your own testimony as to what happened with her and Max.”

“Right. Well, I guess I’ll tell them what Max told me then.”

“Yes and tell them how she was acting when she called you into her office that day and hinted that she wanted to go out with Max.”

“How is that going to help?”

“Well, if you say it the right way it will.” She smiled as she leaned forward. “Here, just tell me what you are going to tell them and I’ll see if it helps.”

Liz nodded and began to tell Tess what she was going to tell the company owners. Tess listened and occasionally stopped Liz to get her to change the wording slightly on something. In no time at all, Liz had a perfectly good story that would help in keeping Isabel out of a job at the interior design company.

************************************************************

Hours later Liz walked into her apartment feeling better than she had in days. Now she was hoping this news would cheer Max up too. Shutting the door behind her and dropping her things on the hall table, she hung up her coat in the closet before heading to the kitchen.

Max had his back to her as he finished putting up the dishes he’d already washed from preparing dinner. Liz waited until he’d turned around and saw her.

“Hi Max,” she greeted hesitantly.

“Hey,” he replied without looking up at her. “Your dinner’s in the oven. I’m going to help Kylan with some homework while you eat.”

As he made to leave the kitchen, Liz placed a hand on his arm. “Max wait. If you could stay for a few minutes, there’s something I want to tell you.”

When he didn’t say anything she added, “Please?”

He finally nodded and sat down at the kitchen table. Liz sat down next to him and watched as he folded his arms over his chest. She sighed.

“Max, Isabel was fired today.”

He frowned. “So?”

“She was fired because she was using her position as boss to bully and manipulate people into doing things for her.”

Max sat up. “What? Are you saying…”

Liz nodded. “Yes. The other day I told Tess that you told me what had happened and how you were upset about it. I told her that I had no idea what was going on and that is the truth Max. I didn’t know Isabel had already asked you and you turned her down.

Anyway, turns out there was a camera there that night that caught the whole thing on tape. There was no audio, but Tess said you could clearly see her being suggestive and you being direct to her and then walking away. When they called her in to their offices to talk to her, they sent someone to search her office and they found evidence that she was going to use one of my accounts to blackmail me in some way.

They asked her about it and she confessed that she was going to try to talk me into setting you up with her again. So they fired her and later I went to give them my own testimony. I told them what you had told me she did to you. It was enough to make sure she wasn’t coming back to work for them.”

Max sat there with a stunned look on his face. “She was going to blackmail you?”

Liz nodded. “Yes, that’s what she said. Apparently she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Max, listen I just want you to know that I had no idea that she had even approached you that way at the party. If I had known, I would never have put you in that position.”

Max sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I know Liz. I believe you.”

“Then do you believe me when I say I’m so sorry for ever setting you up on a date with her? I didn’t know she was going to be that way Max. When she asked me about you, I thought it was completely innocent. I mean, even Tess was much more direct when she talked about you.”

Max arched an amused eyebrow at that. “Really? What did Tess say?”

Liz chuckled, “Well she said…”

She stopped herself just before she said anything that would embarrass either one of them and shook her head. “Never mind. It’s not worth repeating.”

Max hid the smile that threatened to spread when he saw the slight blush in Liz’s cheeks. Whatever Tess had told Liz about him was apparently something Liz agreed with. At least he hoped it was something like that.

Liz reached out and touched the back of his hand with the tips of her fingers to get his attention. “Max? I really am sorry for everything that happened.”

Max finally looked up into her eyes and saw the honesty there. He knew Liz would never had done anything that low. He had just been hurt and disgusted and Liz had been the only one there to take it out on. He knew it was wrong to yell at her, but the frustration of fending off Isabel and wishing he’d been out on a date with Liz had gotten to him.

He nodded and gave her a smile. “It’s okay. I know you are. And I’m sorry I got mad at you. I was just…”

“Hurt, I know.” finished Liz.

He smiled. “Yeah and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”

“I understand why you did Max. And I promise I won’t ever set you up on another date again.”

Max grinned. “It’s a deal then.” He got up to get her dinner out of the microwave and brought it back to her. “So, what are they going to do about Isabel’s position?”

Liz shrugged. “They don’t know yet. They are still going through the process of releasing her first. Once that’s done, then they’ll figure out what they are going to do.”

He nodded. “I see. Okay, well go ahead and eat dinner. I told Kylan I’d help him as soon as I was done in the kitchen, so…”

“Right. Okay go help Kylan then.” As Max walked to the door, she called to him and when he turned to look at her she gave him a smile. “Thanks.”

He returned her smile. “Welcome.”

************************************************************

“There you go! You got it Kylan!” grinned Max as the boy finished his last sentence.

“Yes! Finally!”

Max chuckled as he stood up. “Okay, let’s get your homework put up before I go sport.”

Kylan nodded and bounced off the bed to put away his things. As he and Max put his work into his backpack, Kylan glanced up at Max.

“Max?”

“Yeah sport?”

“Mom said she was sorry again didn’ she?”

Max smiled. “Yeah, she did.”

“An’ you forgave her this time.”

“Yep.”

“So, you are gonna talk to her now, right?”

“Yes I’m talking to her now.”

Kylan grinned. “Good! Now you can ask her to let you stay the night again!”

Max rolled his eyes. “Kylan, we’ve been over this…”

Kylan pouted. “I know Max! But I don’ see why not! You like me and you like my mom. I like you and mom likes you. So if we all like each other, then you can stay!”

Max held up his hand. “Wait, back up a bit. How do you know your mom likes me?”

Kylan rolled his eyes and put his hands on his hips as if saying duh. “Max! It’s my mom! She likes you!”

Max shook his head. “Yes, but how do you know that?”

“I just do.”

“Kylan!”

“Cause she looks at you.”

“What?”

“She looks at you.”

“Well, she looks at everyone else she’s friends with too.”

Kylan shook his head and moved closer to Max and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper. “Not like this. She looks at you kinda like Maria looks at Michael. Or like you look at her.”

Max quickly shut his mouth before his jaw hit the ground. Since when did the kid get so astute. “Um, Kylan have you told your mom this?”

“Nope.”

“Good. Do me a favor okay? Don’t mention any of this to her.”

“Why would I?”

“I don’t know, but I just want you to be careful what you say to her okay? She might not like it if you tell her what you told me. So, let’s keep this a secret between you and me okay?”

“M’kay.”

“Okay. Well, why don’t you finish cleaning up and I’m going to go get ready to leave.”

“M’kay Max!”

As Kylan scrambled to put the rest of his stuff up, Max walked out of the room and down the hallway. When he was out of Kylan’s sight, he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes.

Max fought down panic as he realized that Kylan knew he liked Liz. How was it that the kid knew Max had a thing for Liz? Max was certain he’d been really careful with keeping his feelings under wraps, but somehow Kylan knew the truth. And if Kylan knew, did that mean Liz would find out soon?

************************************************************

Maria gave her big brother a hug. “I’m going to miss you bro.”

Max chuckled. “Yeah, but not as much as Michael’s going to be missing you.”

She punched him on the shoulder. “Max! Do me a favor and don’t give him a hard time about it okay? I knew I shouldn’t have confided in you about our goodbye!”

He grinned at her. “Don’t worry little sis, I won’t give him a hard time. Much.”

Maria scowled at him. “You keep this up big bro and Kylan and I are gonna have words! Where Liz can hear!”

Max paled at that. “I knew I shouldn’t have confided in you either!”

As soon as he finished that statement, they looked at each other and cracked up laughing. That was the scene Alex walked up on.

“Okay, you guys wanna share the big joke with Whitman?”

Maria wiped the tears from her eyes and shrugged. “Max can fill you in if he wants. I’ve got to get going or I’m going to miss my plane. Bye Max! Hope to see you during Spring Break!”

“Okay, bye little sis and be careful!” Max called out to her as she made her way to her car.

After she’d driven away, Alex followed Max into his apartment and walked to the fridge. Getting out two beers, he handed Max one and sat down in a nearby chair.

“Okay, now that I’m here, spill!”

Max grinned. “Liz and I made up.”

Alex rolled his eyes. “As if the two of you were ever together to begin with.”

“Ha ha! Very funny Alex. No, I mean, she apologized to me again and she told me Isabel was fired because of what she did.”

“What! Seriously!”

Max nodded and went on to tell Alex everything Liz had told him about how Isabel had been fired and what she’d planned on doing to Liz. Max said that once it had all been explained, he told Liz that he’d known she wouldn’t have done something like that to him and he was sorry for yelling at her. He’d just been fed up with it and she happened to be the closest one when it had finally gotten to him.

So they had forgiven each other and when Alex asked, Max said they were now on speaking terms again. Then Max dropped the other shoe. He told Alex about the conversation he’d had with Kylan.

“Whoa! So he knows then.”

“Yeah and I’m hoping he doesn’t say anything to Liz.”

Alex frowned. “You know, him telling his mom might not be a bad idea.”

“What?”

“Well think about it Max. If Kylan tells Liz something similar to what he told you, she’ll probably more curious than anything else. She’ll probably want him to explain how he knows that and it would make her look more closely.”

Max frowned. “I don’t know, Alex. If Kylan convinces her that I like her, it could upset her and she’ll tell me to leave.”

Alex shook his head. “No. I don’t think she will. Not until she has real proof anyway. But hopefully by the time she does, Kylan will have buttered her up enough to really look at you as more than just a babysitter.”

“Alex, I don’t think Liz is interested in me. I mean she still wears her engagement ring and has his picture by her bed. Plus, she’s still seeing Jesse.” The last word came out in a growl which made Alex raise an eyebrow.

“Wow, if I wasn’t convinced you didn’t like the man before, I sure do now.”

“Whatever Alex! You know what that prick did during New Year’s!”

“Yeah, I know. You’ve been growling about it for days now. Let it go Max, Liz obviously has.”

“That’s just it! I don’t get why she lets him get away with that shit! She already said she wasn’t interested in him that way, so why does she keep putting herself through that?”

“I don’t know, he’s a familiar face maybe?”

“And what exactly does that make me?” he huffed as he sank back into the couch.

“The babysitter.” When Max glared at him, Alex continued on. “Don’t give me that look. That’s exactly what you are to her and unless you do something to make her think differently, she’s going to keep on seeing you that way.”

Max sighed as he leaned his head back against the cushions. “I know Alex.”

“Okay then, what are you going to do about it?”

“What can I do? I don’t want to risk scaring her off.”

“You just said Kylan told you she looks at you the way you look at her.”

“Yeah, but she doesn’t know he knows. Or me for that matter. She’s going to look at me like I’m crazy if I go and tell her that I know she likes me because Kylan said she looks at me the way I look at her. Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?”

“No more ridiculous that it is for the two of you to go on pretending there’s nothing there between the two of you.”

Max sighed as he began to peel the label off his beer. “There’s nothing there Alex.”

Alex threw his hands up in the air. “Fine, you want to keep sulking and moping all alone in this apartment while the woman you are dreaming about continues to get closer to playing house with some asshole, be my guest. Just don’t come crying to me when she up and decides to make him the new man of the house.”

“Fine,” replied Max as he frowned at the beer.

“Fine! I’m going now before I get swallowed up in this newest pity party of yours. Call me when you think my best friend has resurfaced.” With those words Alex got up and tossed his empty beer bottle in the trash can before letting himself out of Max’s apartment.

“Later, Max.”

“Later.”

************************************************************

“Kylan, you really need to be careful what you say to Max.”

“But Kyle, who else was gonna tell Max that mom likes him? And this way he can go tell mom he likes her too.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Well it should be! Max was happy when I asked if he and mom were talking again. I saw him smile! And so I had to tell him she likes him too.”

“Kylan…”

“Then he can tell her and she can say she likes him too…”

“Kyl…”

“Then they can kiss and he can finally stay the night!”

“Kylan! Look, I know you want them to be together, but they have to be the ones to do it okay? You can’t put two people together when they are not ready for it.”

“But they are ready.”

“Not yet Kylan. Let’s just give them a little more time okay? They just made up and are now talking to each other. That’s a step in the right direction. And since you told Max that your mom likes him, then maybe he will do something to show her that he likes her. If that happens and it turns out okay, we’ll see how it goes from there.”

“M’kay, Kyle.”

“Good. Now get some sleep. And remember Kylan. Let Max and your mom get together on their own. They have to get together because they want to, not just because you want them to, okay?”

“M’kay, I understand. Night Kyle.”

“Goodnight Kylan.”

TBC...
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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun Apr 29, 2007 10:00 pm

Song quoted is "I'm a Blonde" by Julie Brown :lol:

Part 15

It was nearly a week later that Tess came into Liz’s office with what could be seen as both good and bad news depending on whose view it was. Liz knew something was up when Tess walked in and sat down in a chair while looking incredibly awkward. After beating around the bush for a while, Liz finally got impatient and called her on it.

“Tess! Whatever it is can’t be that bad! Just spit it out already!”

Tess grimaced at the no nonsense tone Liz gave her before finally mumbling under her breath. “TheownersaskedmetointerviewforIsabel’spositionandIdecidedtodoit.”

Liz sat there staring at Tess as she tried to process what she’d just said. “Come again.”

Tess sighed. “Oh come on Liz, I know you heard me the first time!”

“Okay, so the owners approached you to interview for the position and you decided to go for it. What’s wrong with that?”

Tess frowned. “Aren’t you the least bit upset that they didn’t even ask you?”

She shook her head. “No, besides, you’ve been with this company a whole lot longer than I have, so it’s only natural for them to ask those with more expertise. Do you think you got it?”

Tess shrugged. “I don’t know. They said they’d let me know by the end of the week. There are others they want to interview first.”

Liz nodded. “Makes sense. Still, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.”

“You do realize that if I get the position, you will be without a partner, right?”

“Yes, hon. My brain can perform such menial tasks as putting the pieces together.”

“Ha ha, very funny,” replied Tess in a sarcastic tone before sticking her tongue out at Liz. “I just don’t want to leave you hanging that’s all.”

Liz nodded. “I know Tess. You came and told me that you’re in the running for the position. I know you care because you did that. Now I won’t be caught unawares and I can prepare myself for being on my own for a while.”

Tess quirked an eyebrow. “You know, you are taking this way too lightly. It’s almost like you knew they were going to ask me.”

Liz just smiled at Tess. “Well, you told me Isabel was fired. I figured they’d want to fill the position from within as soon as they possibly could. And since I thought about it, I figured you’d be one of the ones they’d ask because of your experience and the fact that you’ve been with this company for a few years. Plus, there’s also the fact that you reported unscrupulous behavior of another employee to your superiors. That right there screams loyalty and a head for business if nothing else does.”

Tess just stared at Liz for a few moments before she finally nodded. “Yes, you’re right. In fact, you are so right that I’m wondering why you aren’t one of the owners with that calculating mind of yours.”

Liz chuckled. “I’m still too young and I don’t have the experience as they do. Give me a few more years, I’m certain I’ll make my way up the ladder by then.”

Tess grinned. “I hope I’m around to see that.”

Liz simply winked at her before going back to looking over her notes. Tess sat quietly looking at her for a while before she finally broke the silence again.

“Will you really be okay on your own?”

Liz looked up at her and saw the worried look on her face. “I can’t believe you are that worried about it Tess. I’ll be fine. I mean, who is the one who always knew where to find certain files you kept losing or just what to say to a particularly finicky client?”

Tess grinned. “You make me sound like such a blonde.”

“You are a blonde!”

Tess and Liz looked at each other with similar smirks and suddenly broke out into a rendition of an old Julie Brown song complete with the high pitched nasal sounding voices.

“Because I'm a blonde, I don't have to think.
I talk like a baby, and I never pay for drinks.
Don't have to worry 'bout getting a man
If I keep this blonde and I keep these tan,
'Cause I'm a blonde, yeah, yeah, yeah.”


They fell back into their seats laughing so hard that tears leaked from the corners of their eyes. When Liz finally got her breath back, she got up from her chair and moved to Tess’ side.

“Tess, thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I know I haven’t really said that before, but it means a lot to me to have you looking out for me. But I don’t want you to worry about me okay? I hope you get the position because you honestly deserve it and don’t look back. I can handle whatever this job throws at me and I won’t have a problem at all with calling you boss.”

Tess quirked an eyebrow. “You sure about that?”

Liz laughed. “Positive.”

Tess stood up and hugged Liz. “Well, don’t worry too much either because as soon as I possibly can, I’m going to make sure you have a new partner. And it won’t be the first person who crosses my path either. I’m going to make sure it’s someone who is completely compatible with you.”

Liz nodded as she hugged Tess back. “I know. Thanks Tess.”

She grinned as she headed to the door. “You are more than welcome Lizzie.”

Liz walked towards her desk as she heard Tess singing more of the Julie Brown song.

“I never learned to read, and I never learned to cook.
Why should I bother when I look like I look?
I know lots of people are smarter than me,
But I have this philosophy…
…So what?
'Cause I'm a blonde, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

As her voice faded into the distance, Liz couldn’t help but smile at the way Tess always loved to poke fun at the stereotypical blondes people often mistook her for. No matter what, those things never got Tess down. She just brushed it off and moved on saying that if she was blessed with looks to rival a goddess who was she to complain when hot men thought she was dumb. If it got her free drinks, she wasn’t going to knock it.

However, that’s as far as it went. Tess only gave it up when she thought the guy was worth it. And if Liz’s hunch was right, Tess’ new neighbor Nick was obviously worth it. Looking at her calendar, she smirked.

“Oh yeah, he is obviously worth it.”

************************************************************

“Okay and this toast is for being the best baby sister a guy could ever have!” said Michael as he raised his glass high in the air once more.

“Aw, Mike! You are so sweet!” gushed Tess as she and Liz clinked their glasses against his before taking a swallow.

It was now Friday night and the official decision had been made that morning. The owners had chosen Tess to take over the position that was once Isabel’s. So, to celebrate her promotion, Liz and Michael had decided to take Tess out to dinner and drinks at her favorite restaurant.

Liz held up her own glass. “And this toast is for being such a great friend who always has my back no matter what!”

“Amen!” added Michael as he thumped his glass against the table before raising it to the girls.

After they’d taken another drink, Michael raised his glass once more. “And this one is for always being there when I need you no matter what time it is or how far away you are which makes you the perfect girlfriend. And most guys would be damned lucky if they got to call you that!”

Liz and Tess had been in the process of raising their glasses until it registered what he was saying. Michael didn’t even wait for them to raise their glasses. Instead, he just held his glass up, then proceeded to chug it like there was no tomorrow.

Tess and Liz stared at him for a moment before looking at each other in silent communication. As they looked back at Michael, he set his empty glass down with an audible thud and stared at it for a moment before mumbling, “I need another drink. Where’s our waitress?”

He turned his head this way and that, trying to locate the girl that had served them. Tess glanced at her watch.

“Gee, look at the time. We should get going. Liz, you have to relieve Max from taking care of Kylan and Michael, we should go if we’re going to get home before sunrise.”

Michael frowned as he looked at his own watch. “What are you talking about Tess? It’s only going to be ten, it’s still too early!”

Tess nodded as she started to get up. “Yep, that’s why we should get going, it’s way too early for you to be getting drunk.”

“I’m not drunk.”

“Not yet, but I give you another thirty minutes.”

He turned to Liz with a pout. “Liz?”

Tess shook her head and put her hands on her hips. “Uh uh! Don’t you dare give her the puppy dog eyes Michael Anthony Harding!”

Liz reached out to touch Tess’ arm. “Tess, would you mind if I dropped Michael off at his place on my way home?”

Tess picked up her coat as she asked, “You sure?”

“Yeah, it’s not a problem.”

“Okay, sure.” She leaned over and kissed Michael on the cheek. “Thanks for the dinner and drinks big bro, I’ll call you tomorrow.”

He nodded. “Welcome. And congrats again. I’m proud of you little sis.”

She winked at him before turning to give Liz a hug. “Don’t let him depress you too much okay?”

“I won’t.”

“Good. Thanks for coming out with us tonight. I’ll see you Monday.”

“Okay, good night Tess.”

Less than ten minutes later, Liz was driving Michael home as he whined about how much he was missing Maria. He said he was trying to be strong and supportive, allowing Maria to go off and get her education. He was extremely proud of her, but he missed her more than he’d ever thought he would.

Maria had told him she’d come to see him during her spring break, but Michael didn’t think he’d last that long. After all, she’d only been gone for a little over a week and he felt like his heart was being ripped out. When Liz asked him if he was being overdramatic, he’d given her this look that said she was one to talk.

“Liz! You of all people should know what it’s like to meet someone you just click with! Someone who just seems to know everything about you before you even tell them and you seem to know them too. Someone who was there to talk to you and be there when you needed it.”

“Wow! All that and you only knew her for a couple of weeks!”

Michael sighed as he sank back against the seat. “What can I say? Don’t tell me you don’t believe in love at first sight! Come on Liz, you’re the only one I know who could possibly understand what I’m going through.”

Liz sighed as she pulled into his driveway and put her car into park. She turned to look at Michael. “Why do you think I’m the only one who understands?”

He shrugged. “You’ve been there. You’ve been in love before.”

Liz looked at him for a few moments in silence before turning to look out of the front window. Michael saw the way she began to play with the ring on her finger.

“Liz?”

“You’re wrong Michael. It wasn’t love at first sight. Kyle had always been a part of my life, but I didn’t love him at first. Now, I’m wondering if I ever got the chance to ever really love him at all or am I just in love with the image I’ve created of him?”

“That’s not what I mean. I mean, you know what it feels like after someone you love leaves you.”

Liz closed her eyes. “Yeah,” she whispered.

“See? That’s why you’re the only one who could understand what I’m feeling.”

Liz looked out of the window again as she continued to twirl her ring. After a few moments, she turned to look at Michael.

“Does Maria know how you feel about her?”

“She knows I care about her. We talk at least once a week, but I haven’t told her that I love her. I figured I’d wait until she came back for spring break. I just don’t want to scare her away, you know.”

Liz nodded. “Maybe you should talk to Max about this?”

Michael shook his head. “I can’t do that! She’s his little sister!”

Liz rolled her eyes. “I don’t mean share juicy details Michael. I mean maybe Max can give you some insight as to whether or not it’s a good idea to tell Maria that you love her. And maybe he could help you figure out when it will be a good time to tell her that.”

He shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe. I’ll think about it.”

She nodded. “Okay, think about it.” She reached out and gave his hand a squeeze. “She said she’s coming back for spring break Michael. That right there should tell you she wants to see you again even if those once a week phone calls don’t.”

Michael couldn’t help but return the smile Liz gave him at that remark. “Yeah, I know. You’re right. I’m stressing over nothing.”

Liz laughed. “Yeah, maybe, but it’s nice to know there are decent guys out there.”

She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I’m certain she knows what a great guy you are and how much she’d regret it if she didn’t give you a chance. If she doesn’t, Tess and I will rough her up for you.”

That effectively lightened Michael’s mood as he tried to picture the petite blonde and an equally petite brunette ganging up on the taller Maria. Without a doubt, the small girls would win hands down.

Laughing, he pulled Liz into a hug. “Thanks Liz. I needed that.”

She hugged him back. “That’s what friends are for Michael. You’ve always been there for me and Kylan, this is the least I can do.”

************************************************************

Liz slowly opened the door to Kylan’s bedroom and peeked in. She smiled at the familiar sight in front of her. Just like many late nights before, she came home to find both Max and Kylan asleep on her son’s bed.

Both of them were lying on top of the comforter with Kylan curled up at Max’s side. Max had an arm wrapped around Kylan and an open book lay on top of Max’s chest where his other arm held it down. Liz couldn’t help but smile tenderly at the way one of her son’s hands firmly grasped Max’s shirt in his fist.

She gazed at them for a few more moments before she moved quietly into the room. Laying a hand gently on Max’s shoulder, she shook him awake as she whispered his name.

“Max? Hey, it’s me. I’m home.”

Max’s eyes fluttered open before he gave her a sleepy smile. “Hey, Liz.”

“Hey. You think you can wake up a bit so I can put Kylan to bed?”

He nodded as he moved to lay Kylan down without waking him. As soon as he was up, he walked out of the room to refresh himself in the bathroom while Liz began to get her son into his pajamas.

Max walked back in a few minutes later and helped her with dressing Kylan then getting him tucked under the covers. As soon as Kylan was tucked in for the night, Liz kissed his forehead and whispered good night to him before following Max out of the room.

Max turned off the light and closed the door behind him before asking Liz in a low voice. “How was it?”

Liz began walking in the direction of the kitchen as she answered him. “It was fun of course. You know just how entertaining Tess and Michael can be, especially when they are together.”

Max nodded as he sat down at the kitchen table while Liz pulled out two mugs from the cabinet. She poured water into the mugs and set them in the microwave to heat, then moved to another cabinet to get out two tea bags.

Max remained quiet the entire time, just watching Liz as she moved around her kitchen making them mugs of hot tea. When she was done, she handed a steaming mug to Max and they made their way into the living room where they got comfortable on the couch.

Max watched Liz blow on her tea for a few moments before she finally took a sip of it. It was then that he spoke up.

“So, what’s on your mind?”

“Huh?” she asked after taking another sip of her tea.

“Something’s on your mind if you’re making hot tea this late to share with me.”

She grinned at him over the rim of her mug. “Nothing really. Just thought you’d like something to wake you up a bit before the drive home.” Suddenly she frowned at him. “I’m not keeping you from anything am I? I know the night is still early…”

He shook his head. “No, no. I’m fine. Really.”

She nodded. “Okay, well I’m not sleepy yet, so I thought I’d stay up a bit more. I’ll understand if you are ready to go home though.”

“Nah, I’m good. I got a nap after all,” he grinned.

She laughed. “Yes, you did.”

Max took a sip of his tea and settled back into the cushions. “So, Tess and Michael were entertaining as usual huh?”

Liz chuckled. “Oh yeah. They cracked jokes all through dinner and Michael teased her about how she would only last about a week before she cracks under the pressure. Tess got him back with her own teasing saying he was just jealous because not only did she get more money and was smarter than him, but she was also the one who got all the looks in their family.”

He laughed. “Ouch. She really got him didn’t she?”

“Yep. Then after dinner, we ordered drinks and Michael and I started toasting Tess for more things than just her promotion.”

“I can just imagine what you two starting toasting her for!” he grinned.

“I know! Everything from being the best little sister a guy could have to being a great friend when she was needed! Michael even toasted her for beating up a guy who had tried to bully her back in elementary school! He said that was when he realized she had the makings of being someone’s boss because she wouldn’t let anyone else boss her around!”

They both laughed at that for a few moments before Liz rolled her eyes. “Of course, Michael had to go and ruin the moment by getting all sappy on us.”

Max gave her a questioning in look. “Sappy?”

She nodded. “Yeah. He toasted her for always being there when he needed her and said something about how that would make her the perfect girlfriend for the guy who was lucky enough to call her that.”

“Ooookay. So, do I have to ask if he had a bit much to drink by that time?”

“That’s what Tess thought. She said it was time to call it a night, so I volunteered to drive Michael home. I figured he needed to talk.”

“Did he?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, he wasn’t drunk then. Something was bothering him.”

“Yep. And I’ll give you one guess just who it was that was on his mind.”

Max stared at her for a moment before his eyes narrowed. “Maria.”

Liz rolled her eyes once more. “Would you stop! He really likes her Max and he has no idea how to tell her how he feels. He’s afraid he’s going to scare her away.”

Max frowned as he looked away from her. Liz drank some of her tea for a few moments as she watched Max staring at the wall. She waited for a few more moments before speaking again.

“Max? What do you have against Michael?”

Max turned to look at her. “What?”

“What do you have against Michael?”

“Nothing. Why would you think I do?”

“You haven’t said anything to what I just told you.”

“Oh, well if he likes her then maybe he should tell her.”

“He’s afraid he’ll scare her away. That she may think he’s going too fast. Max, I told him to talk to you since she’s your sister. I mean maybe you could let him know when it would be a good time to talk to Maria about his feelings for her. You know, let him know if she would be willing to take a chance on him.”

“Right. I’ll talk to him then.”

“You will?”

“Of course I will. If he’s worried about how Maria will take it, then I can try to talk to her first and see if I can find out what she thinks of him. Talking to her will help me get some idea about how Michael should proceed or even if he should proceed.”

He suddenly grinned. “Although, I do have to say I think Michael shouldn’t hold anything back if the way Maria looked when she left was any indication.”

Liz smiled. “How did she look?”

“Oh, like she was already missing a certain someone’s kisses.”

Liz giggled. “Really?”

“Yep and when I teased her about it, she threatened me!”

Liz laughed, nearly upsetting her tea. “Oh my! That seems to be the thing to do lately huh? Little sisters threatening their big brothers!”

“Hey! Don’t go there small one!”

She set her tea down on the end table before turning to glare at him. “You did not just call me small one!”

“Oh yes I did! So, what are you going to do about it?”

She growled at him. “Max Evans, you are so going to get it!”

With that, she grabbed a cushion and began hitting him with it. Max laughed at her attempts of beating him up with the cushion and grabbed one of his own. Soon they were on their feet chasing each other around the couch in real honest to God pillow fight while trying not to laugh too loud to wake Kylan up.

************************************************************

Kylan didn’t move from his position on the bed. A smile formed on his face as he replayed the sounds of his mother and Max’s laughter from the living room. He’d snuck out long enough to see the end of their pillow fight and watched as they continued to giggle like teenagers who had been up to no good as they straightened up the living room together. When that was done, his mother walked Max to the front door where they said good night to each other and his mom placed a kiss on Max’s cheek as she told him to be careful going home.

He was still replaying all of that in his mind when he felt Kyle enter the room. Opening his eyes, he turned his head to look up at Kyle with a smile.

“She kissed him good night.”

Kyle nodded, wearing a smile that mirrored Kylan’s. “Yeah, she did. And before that, they had some fun together. I think that’s what they need to do. If there’s going to be anything between them, then they need to relax around each other.”

Kylan nodded his head without lifting it from his pillow. “Maybe they’ll have more fun now. Maybe next time Max will kiss mom. I think mom didn’ want Max to leave. That’s why she made him hot tea.”

Kyle grinned. “You think so huh?”

“Yep. Mom always makes hot tea when she wants to sit and talk wit someone. She made Max tea so he would stay wit her.”

“Well, I guess it did the trick then. Let’s hope your mom makes more hot tea for Max.”

Kylan gave him a sleepy smile as his eyes fluttered closed once more. “Yeah, let’s hope.”

Kyle stood there for a few more moments watching as Kylan drifted off to sleep still smiling. Then, with a tender smile of his own, he whispered good night and disappeared.

TBC...
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Sun May 06, 2007 10:55 pm

Part 16

“Max! I am not your guinea pig!” Liz snapped as she swatted his hand away from her mouth.

Max pouted. “Oh come on Liz, just taste it. I promise you’ll like it.”

“Ugh it looks horrible.”

“It’s not. Would you stop being a baby and taste it.”

“I’ll taste it,” said Kylan as he walked into the kitchen.

Max handed him the spoon which he stuck into his mouth and swallowed the foul looking sauce before licking the spoon clean.

“Wow! That’s really good! What is it Max?”

Max gave Liz a smug look to which she responded with a roll of her eyes. “It’s my own recipe of cream of mushroom soup,” he replied.

Kylan made a face. “Mushrooms? There was mushrooms in there?”

Max laughed. “Yes, but they are very finely chopped up, so you don’t even notice them at all.”

“Yeah, I didn’ notice them at all. Are we gonna have that for lunch?”

“Do you want some?”

“Yep. It’s good!”

Max grinned at Liz, who huffed. “Fine, if he wants the soup then let him have it, but I’m not touching the stuff.”

“What ‘cha gonna eat then mom?” asked Kylan.

“I’ll make a sandwich or two.”

Kylan huffed. “A sandwich? That’s boring! You’re no fun mom!”

Max couldn’t help but chuckle and added his two cents. “Yeah! You’re no fun mom!”

Liz took offense to that and crossed her arms as she lifted her chin. “I am too!”

“Really?” asked Max before leaning down to Kylan and saying in a conspiratory whisper. “That I’d like to see.”

Kylan giggled making Liz stomp her foot.

“Hey! I heard that!”

Max gave her an innocent look which made Kylan giggle louder. “What did I say?”

“You don’t believe I can be fun?”

Max shook his head. “Nope.” Then he nonchalantly went back to stirring the soup.

Liz gaped at his back. “I can be fun! Tell him Kylan, haven’t you had fun with me before.”

Kylan bit his bottom lip. “Um…”

“Kylan! That will be the last time I take you to Chuck E. Cheese’s!”

He threw his hands in the air. “M’kay, m’kay! Mom can be fun Max.”

Max gave Liz a mock glare over his shoulder. “Gee Liz, not beneath blackmailing your own kid are you?”

Kylan gave Max a quizzical look. “What’s a black mail?”

Max opened his mouth to reply, but Liz beat him to it.

“I can give a babysitter a good black mail too!” she snapped.

Max promptly closed his mouth and went back to stirring the soup.

Kylan clapped his hands together in sudden inspiration. “I know! Mom, why don’ you prove it!”

Liz turned to look at him as Max moved to the refrigerator to get out some items. “What do you mean Kylan?”

“I mean, you and Max go to Chuck E. Cheese’s so you can show him you can be fun!”

Liz rolled her eyes as Max chuckled. “I don’t have to prove anything!”

Max had his back to her while he worked at the kitchen counter. “It’s okay, Kylan. If your mom is too embarrassed to let me see her have fun then…”

Liz gritted her teeth. “Fine!”

Both Max and Kylan swung their gazes towards her.

“Fine what?” asked Kylan.

“Max? You free Friday night?”

Kylan gaped at her. Max turned away from her to keep working on the sandwiches he was making to hide the smile on his face. “I don’t know,” he hedged.

Kylan grabbed Max’s shirt sleeve and started tugging. “Oh please Max! Please say you are free! It’ll be so much fun wit you and mom!”

Max looked down at Kylan and gave a mock sigh. “Now how can I say no to you?” He picked up the plates of sandwiches and walked to the table. Setting one in front of Liz he nodded, “Yeah, I’m free.”

“Woo hoo!” exclaimed Kylan as he scrambled into his own chair while Max put bowls of soup on the table too.

Liz got up to get them glasses of kool-aid and the three of them sat down to make plans for Friday night.

************************************************************

“Oh Max! Hurry! She’s gonna beat you!” yelled Kylan as he tried to cheer Max on while he competed against Liz in skee ball. No matter what Max did, he just couldn’t get his balls into the round circles that were worth the most points. Liz on the other hand was racking up the points and leaving him far behind.

A few moments later the bells that signaled the end of the game went off and it was clear that Liz was once again the victor. She leaned down and pulled out the long string of tickets she’d won while Max pulled his four tickets he’d managed to win.

Handing the tickets to Kylan so he could stuff them in the cup they had, she chuckled. “Had enough big boy?”

Max handed Kylan his own tickets and pouted. “That wasn’t fair! You didn’t tell me I was going to compete against a pro!”

Liz and Kylan both laughed. “Mom’s not a pro Max. She just plays it with me all the time!”

Max quirked an eyebrow at Kylan. “If that’s what she’s like with me, I’d hate to see just how good you are!”

Kylan beamed as Liz said, “He can hold his own.”

Max chuckled and ruffled Kylan’s hair. “Well, how about we find something else to play? Something that makes the playing field more even, huh?”

“Like what?” asked Liz.

Max looked around the place before a smile spread over his face. “Come on, I know just the game!”

The two of them followed Max to a pinball machine and once more the game was on. Liz and Max played four games in which Max won the first and third one and Liz won the second and fourth. After that, they went to play other games where they could win more tickets so that Kylan could trade them in for a water gun that was nearly half the size of him.

The three of them continued to have fun playing other games with each other and Max and Liz even got in the ball pool with Kylan where they chased each other around the pool and dove beneath the soft nerf balls to hide from each other. Eventually it got close to closing time, so Max gathered up the leftover pizza and desserts while Liz helped Kylan shrug into his jacket.

They soon made their way out to Max’s car where Kylan scrambled into the back seat and Max made sure he’d put his seat belt on while Liz put the food boxes on the floor behind the passenger seat. Once everyone was in the car and buckled up, Max started it up and drove them back to Liz’s apartment.

“Well Kylan, I guess your mom sure proved that she could have fun huh?” asked Max as he stopped at a red light.

Kylan grinned from the back seat. “Yep! She sure did!”

Liz swatted Max’s shoulder. “See! I told you I knew how to have fun, doubter!”

They all laughed at her remark before Kylan spoke up again.

“Mom, can we go to Mike’s tomorrow and play with the water gun? I wanna see it work!”

Liz frowned at Kylan over her shoulder. “I don’t think we should Kylan. It’s still January and it’s still cold out.”

As Kylan pouted, Max interjected. “Well, the forecast is for a sunny day tomorrow. So, if you take him early enough, it won’t be that cold.”

“Yeah! Come on mom!”

Liz gave Max a ‘thanks a lot’ look which he responded to with a shrug.

“Let’s wait and see how the weather is tomorrow okay?”

“M’kay. And Max, you should come too! It will be fun wit you and Mike and me and the water gun!”

“I don’t know sport, it seems unfair that you have the water gun and Mike and I won’t have one.”

“Well then go get one before you come over and play! Mom can call Mike and tell him to get one too before we go over.”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Let’s see if it’s a nice sunny day first before we make anymore plans okay Kylan?”

“M’kay.”

************************************************************

The next day dawned bright and sunny just like Kylan had hoped. He was up at almost the crack of dawn bounding into Liz’s room to get her up so she could call Max and Michael to make plans for all of them to go to Michael’s house and play water guns.

Liz finally relented and first called Michael to see if he was busy and if not would he be interested in joining Kylan and Max in his backyard for a water gun fight since Kylan was anxious to try out the new gun he’d gotten. Michael was more than happy to entertain all of them at his place and agreed to have some burgers on the grill by the time they would all arrive at eleven.

Liz called Max next and asked him if he was still interested in going over to Michael’s since he’d said it was okay for them to go over. Max agreed to meet them there at eleven too.

Liz and Kylan arrived at Michael’s five minutes early since Kylan couldn’t get there fast enough. Michael happily answered the door and hugged them both before leading them into the house. He and Kylan oohed and aahed over the water gun as Liz went into Michael’s kitchen to work on the fruit salad she was contributing to their lunch.

Ten minutes later, Max arrived with his own contribution of seasoned French fries and chili cheese dip. As Michael and Kylan went outside to grill the burgers, Max and Liz worked in the kitchen on their own dishes.

Liz stood at the island chopping various fruits into bite sized pieces and putting them into the bowl she was going to mix them in with the other ingredients. Max plugged in the slow cooker he’d already prepared the chili cheese dip in before he spread his seasoned fries out on two aluminum covered cookie sheets and placed them in the oven to bake.

He and Liz bantered back and forth good naturedly until they were finished with their preparations which they then took out to the back where Michael and Kylan were tossing a football around while watching the burgers.

A few minutes later they all sat down to eat at the small table Michael had in the backyard. It wasn’t long before Kylan was getting restless, wanting to go play with his new water gun. Liz finally relented and made him go inside to change so he could get wet.

Max went in with him and when they came out, Max had changed too and even had his own gun. It wasn’t as big as Kylan’s, but it would do. As Liz began to clean up, Michael went inside to change and soon came out with his own gun as well.

Soon the three of them were chasing each other around the yard where even the men were laughing as hard as Kylan was. Liz remained seated at the table watching the three of them running around the yard until Kylan came racing at her and squirted her.

She came to her feet with a shout of surprise. “Kylan!”

He laughed. “Come on mom, you’re missing all the fun!”

Max grinned at her as he sauntered up to them. “Yeah, Liz come have fun with us!”

Liz rolled her eyes before making her way towards the back door. “No way.”

“Liz! Oh come on!” Max called after her before squirting his gun at her. He hit her right on her butt making her shriek and whirl around to glare at him. He wore an unrepentant smirk on his face. “Come on and play with us!”

She growled at him. “Just you wait Max Evans! You will pay for that!”

With that she disappeared into the house, only to reappear several minutes later in a change of clothes and her own water gun which just happened to be a little bit bigger than the one Max had.

Without any warning whatsoever, she ran after Max and doused him with water. Max had been in the middle of pursuing Michael when he was hit, so he whirled around and gave Liz a look of surprise. His hesitation allowed her to squirt him once more dead in the face.

As he growled a warning, Liz took off laughing and soon Max was in pursuit.

The four of them remained outside as long as the sun shone taking turns chasing each other with the water guns, snacking on any leftovers, or just taking a breather. When the sun began to fade and they could feel the cool weather coming on, they called it a day and went inside.

Liz went into the guest bedroom to change into dry clothes while the guys went to Michael’s bedroom. Eventually they all wound up dry and warm in the living room where they got comfortable to watch Kylan’s favorite movie, Cars.

Halfway through the movie, Max got up to make chocolate milkshakes for all of them which they all enjoyed while finishing the movie. After the movie, Michael played a few games on his play station with Max and Kylan while Liz just sat and cheered them all on.

Later, they watched yet another one of Kylan’s favorite movies, Shrek 2, which he eventually fell asleep during. Max took the sleeping boy to the guest bedroom so they wouldn’t disturb him and the three adults just sat and talked for a while.

When Michael went to use the restroom, Liz took that opportunity to thank Max.

“For what?” he asked.

“For hanging out with me and Kylan this weekend. I know you have other things to do too, but I’m glad you came out with us. I know Kylan’s been wanting you to join us on outings like this.”

Max smiled. “Yeah, he’s been dropping not so subtle hints.”

Liz giggled. “That’s my son.”

Max reached out and squeezed her hand gently. “You’re welcome by the way. I had a great time this weekend.”

Liz looked up into his eyes and smiled. “I did too, Max.”

He chuckled as he reached up to brush her hair out of her face. “And I found out you really do know how to have fun.”

Liz laughed and swatted his arm playfully. “Thanks Max!”

He rubbed his arm and pouted. “And you also have a mean streak!”

“I do not!”

“Yes you do! You were ruthless at beating me at the games we played and then you go and sneak up on me today with the water gun!”

Liz rolled her eyes, but the smile didn’t leave her face. “Whatever Max!”

He pouted, as he continued to rub his arm. “Meanie! That hurt!”

“It did not.”

“Yes it did.”

She tilted her head in question. “Aw, does the poor little boy want me to kiss it and make it better?”

Max gave her puppy dog eyes. “Would you?”

She giggled and leaned in as he lifted his arm towards her. She pressed her lips against his shirt sleeve and make a loud smacking sound before pulling back and looking at him.

“There. All better?”

Max gave her a genuine smile. “Much.”

Michael returned to the room at that moment and the three of them went back to talking for a little longer until Liz decided to take her son home. Max followed them in his car so that he could help Liz with the drowsy Kylan and the leftovers.

After tucking Kylan in, they walked to the front door where Liz said good night to Max.

“Thanks again Max. It was fun.”

Max smiled. “Yes, it was. I’m sure Kylan had fun too.”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, he’ll be wanting you to hang out with us a lot more now.”

“It’s okay. I like hanging out with you two and Michael and I hang out already, so…”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah,” he repeated. They stood there for a few more moments before Max leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Good night Liz.”

She gave him a shy smile. “Night Max, drive careful.”

He nodded before he turned and walked to his car.

************************************************************

Liz was right. After that weekend, Kylan seemed to be more determined than ever to get Max to hang out with them more on the weekends. Max told them he didn’t mind at all and soon, he was even spending some evenings during the week with Liz and Kylan and sometimes Michael and Tess.

The last few weeks of January flew by with Max spending more and more time with Kylan, but most especially with Liz. Of course, the two of them still weren’t aware that they were being set up by everyone else.

After all, it hadn’t been a coincidence for Michael to leave the two of them alone in his living room that night. He’d done it on purpose and had been glad when he returned to see the two of them softly talking to each other.

Tess and Kylan also did their parts in finding ways to give Max and Liz some moments alone no matter what they were doing. Unfortunately, the two of them still seemed to be moving at a snails pace.

Granted, they both seemed much more comfortable around each other and could even be found having more playful moments together like the pillow fight from before. They even began to snuggle up next to each other when watching movies even if Kylan was snuggled up with them.

Still, Kylan continued to complain to Kyle that he wished Max would stop giving his mother kisses on the cheek and give her a real kiss on the mouth. When Kyle seemed surprised that Kylan knew what a kiss was, Kylan rolled his eyes and said he did see Shrek 1 and 2 several times after all.

Kyle tried to reassure Kylan that they were heading in the right direction since Max was spending more and more time with them, but clearly the boy was getting impatient.

So, it was a wonderful night for Kylan when he happened to sneak out of bed one night while his mom and Max were in the living room watching TV. Peeking in, he saw his mom curled against Max’s side and Max had his arm around her. But what got him excited was seeing Max’s hand stoking his mother’s hair while placing soft kisses against her temple.

She didn’t even protest what he was doing as Kylan clearly saw and heard her sigh in contentment. Deciding not to stay and intrude anymore, he tiptoed back to his room and crawled back into bed wearing a huge smile.

What he missed was Max turning off the TV and carrying Liz to bed where he tucked her in and placed a kiss against her forehead. When she opened her eyes in drowsiness, he whispered to her.

“Goodnight Liz. I locked up the apartment. I’m going to let myself out okay?”

She gave him a sleepy smile. “Okay. Night Max, be safe.”

He returned her smile before leaving the apartment. Little did anyone know that there was one person who wasn’t happy about the progress Max and Liz seemed to finally be making.

TBC... :twisted:
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Mon May 28, 2007 2:36 pm

Part 17

Isabel opened her door and gave the man a questioning look. “Can I help you?”

“Isabel Jacobson?”

“Yes?”

He held out his hand. “I’m Jesse Ramirez.”

She frowned at him. “Do I know you?”

“No, but you know my girlfriend, Liz Parker.”

Isabel stiffened at the mention of that name. “Your girlfriend.”

He nodded. “Yeah, listen I was wondering if we could discuss something.”

She shook her head. “Sorry, but I’m kind of busy right now, so if you don’t mind…”

As she shut the door, he stuck his foot out to hold it open. “Look, I know what happened to you and I’m here to help you get some payback.”

Isabel narrowed her eyes at him. “What do you mean payback?”

Jesse gave her a smile. “I’ll help you get your revenge if you help me get mine.”

************************************************************

Max stared at the phone just as he had been for the last twenty minutes. He was still trying to work up the courage to pick up the phone and call, but so far it wasn’t working. Finally getting impatient where he leaned against the door frame leading to the kitchen, Alex cleared his throat.

“Max! The day isn’t going to wait for you! Would you just pick up the phone and call her!”

Max sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m going to, Alex. Just give me a minute!”

“It’s been twenty minutes since we talked about this!” He paused as he glanced at the clock. “Twenty-one!”

Max sighed again and closed his eyes.

Alex pushed off from the doorframe and walked over to the phone. Lifting the handle, he held it out to Max. “Call her!”

Max gave a little pout, but took the phone from Alex before leaning over and hesitantly dialing the number. As he heard the ringing begin, he clutched the phone in his hand. Each ring made his heart thunder in his chest until he finally heard the tell tale click that someone had picked up on the other end.

“Hello?” came Kylan’s voice.

Max couldn’t help the smile that spread as he heard the sound of the boy’s voice. “Hi Kyl, it’s Max. Is your mom home?”

“Max! Where are you? Wanna come over? Mom and I are both here and bored!”

Max chuckled at the way Kylan sounded so enthusiastic. “I can’t come over right now Kylan, but I really need to talk to your mom right now. Can you go get her for me?”

“What cha need to talk to her for?”

“Well, I need to ask her something.”

“I’ll ask her for you.”

“Um, I think it’s best if I ask her myself okay?”

There was a few moments of silence and Max wasn’t sure if Kylan was still there or if he’d gone to get Liz. Just when he was about to speak up, he heard Kylan’s voice again.

“Oh, I get it. You want to ask mom to go do something wit you right?”

“Something like that. Yeah,” replied Max.

“M’kay. I’ll get her.”

Max heard him put the phone down and then the muted sounds of Kylan’s voice and Liz’s came a few seconds later. After a few more moments, he could hear the phone being picked up again.

“Hello?”

“Hi Liz.”

“Max? What’s up?”

“Um listen, there’s something I wanted to ask you…”

“Oh, okay. What is it?”

Max swallowed before looking up to see Alex gesturing with his hands to just come out and ask her. He swallowed once more before closing his eyes and popping the question in one breath.

“I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me tonight?”

He held his breath in anticipation of her answer, hoping that she’d heard him right. Just when he wondered if she was even on the other end, he heard her chuckle. Opening his eyes, he frowned.

“Liz? What’s so funny?”

“You have the most incredible timing you know? Kylan told me he wanted to go spend the night with my mother tonight, so I was going to call her in a bit to see if he could stay with her.”

He smiled. “So does that mean you’ll come out with me?”

“Um, that depends on what my mother says. Let me call her first and I’ll call you back as soon as I know for sure, okay?”

“Okay.”

“I’ll call you in a bit then.”

“Great, see you in a bit.”

“Bye.”

“Bye Liz.”

He waited until he heard the dial tone before setting the phone down. Alex looked at him with wide eyes.

“Well?”

Max grinned at him. “She’s calling her mom to see if Kylan can spend the night with her. If he can then she’ll go out with me.”

Alex whooped. “Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! So, what’s her mother’s number? Let’s call her and make sure she takes Kylan for the night.”

Max rolled his eyes. “Seriously Alex, I’m not calling Nancy just to beg her to take Kylan so I can go out with her daughter.”

Alex snickered. “Then I’ll do it.”

Max shook his head just as the phone rang again. He picked it up and said, “Hello?”

“Hey Max. My mom is on her way to get Kylan right now. So, do you want me to meet you somewhere?”

“No, I’ll pick you up from your place.”

“Okay, sure.”

“Is seven okay?”

“Seven?”

“Yeah, I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“Oh yeah, seven is fine.”

“Great. Then I’ll see you at seven. Oh and Liz?”

“Yeah?”

“Wear something a little on the dressy side.”

“Um, okay.”

“Okay. See you at seven then. Bye.”

“Bye, Max.”

Max hung up the phone and leaped to his feet throwing his hands wide. “She said yes!” he yelled.

Alex threw his own hands in the air. “Hell yes! That’s more like it! We have finally made some progression ladies and gentlemen!” He rubbed his hands together as he began to walk towards Max’s bedroom. “Okay then, let’s see what we can do to make her really notice you tonight.”

************************************************************

Isabel frowned as she made her way towards the address Jesse had given her. She still wasn’t quite sure how she had agreed to help Jesse in his scheme to get his girlfriend back. From what he’d told her, Liz had left him in favor of another man. A man who was so far below their social ladder that he wasn’t even fit to shine their shoes.

At least that’s what Jesse kept saying, but Isabel had to wonder if Liz had really left him for someone who was not so good. After all, she’d once worked with the girl and from what she’d known of Liz, she really didn’t have time to date others since she already had a son. Isabel didn’t think Liz would willingly date a man who could be unsuited for her son.

No, there was something Jesse wasn’t telling her and she had a suspicion that Liz had dumped Jesse for a whole other reason entirely. In fact, Isabel was certain that Liz might have just been getting the same lecherous vibe from Jesse just like she’d gotten.

Sighing, she pulled into the parking lot of the apartment building that was on the piece of paper Jesse had given her. She had decided to just go and have a look, see if this guy was really as bad as Jesse said he was. If he was, maybe she’d think about helping Jesse out, but it was a big maybe.

She parked the car and turned off the ignition, as she continued to take in the building in front of her. After a few moments, she got out of her car and began to walk around the place trying to look as if she was just taking a leisurely stroll while covertly keeping an eye out for the apartment number Jesse had given her.

As she continued to look around the place, she thought that it was a rather quaint complex. It wasn’t an exclusive place like the one she lived in, but it was nice. A place for young families or even college students. There was nothing there to indicate it was for those of low income and it certainly didn’t look like a slum.

The more she looked around, the more she believed Jesse had been lying to her or omitting certain things from his story. Finally rolling her eyes in disgust at herself and at Jesse, she made her way back towards her car. She’d already noted the door marked with the number and decided this was not the home of someone who lived poorly.

She was heading towards the parking lot when she heard a couple of male voices not to far from where she was. Looking over her shoulder, she instantly recognized Max Evans coming out of the door that she’d made a note of. Her eyes went wide in surprise as she realized just who it was that Jesse claimed Liz had left him for.

Swearing under her breath, she hastily looked around for a place to hide and ducked into an alcove that housed the vending machines. Scrambling behind them, she pressed herself as close as she could to the machine and hoped they didn’t see her.

She could hear their voices getting closer.

“Relax Max. You look fine.”

“I’m relaxed.”

A chuckle sounded. “Really? Then how come you just ran your hands through your hair again and now it’s sticking straight up!”

“What! Alex why didn’t you…”

Laughter rang out before she heard Max’s voice again. “That wasn’t funny Whitman!”

Alex cackled. “Yes it was. You should have seen your face. Come on Max, you look great. If I do say so myself. Now go and have a good time okay?”

“Yeah okay.”

“Remember Max, it’s not always the first impression that counts. It’s how long you can keep her interested in you.”

“Right. You’re right. Thanks Alex, I’ll talk to you later.”

“No problem, man.”

Isabel waited until she heard the footsteps fade away before peaking out from behind the vending machines. Just as she did, she saw Max getting into his car in the parking lot. Waiting until he’d pulled out of the parking lot and headed down the road, she finally let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and walked out of the alcove.

She was so busy feeling relieved she wasn’t aware of anyone else nearby until she had run right into them. The force of the impact caused her to stumble back, making her land wrong on her heel twisting it slightly. As pain shot up her leg, she reached out to grab something, anything and was saved from landing on her behind by a strong pair of hands that gripped her forearms and pulled her back to her feet.

“Whoops! There you go. You okay there?” Isabel’s head snapped up the moment she heard the voice. She knew without a doubt this was the guy Max had been talking to.

He smiled down at her. “You okay?”

She slowly nodded as she leaned back against the wall for balance. “Thanks for saving me from the pavement.”

His eyes sparkled. “No problem. All in a days work. You know, saving damsels in distress.”

She couldn’t help but return the genuine smile he wore even with the clichéd line he’d just given.

He held his hand out. “Alex Whitman at your service, my lady.”

She shook his hand, not letting him know what she was thinking. Now that he’d introduced himself, she knew he was indeed the same guy Max had been talking to. “Isabel Jacobson.”

“Isabel. Wow, it’s a lovely name.”

She couldn’t help the girlish laugh at that. “If you say for a lovely girl, I think I’m going to hurl.”

His eyes went wide. “Seriously? Then I will refrain from saying it. It wouldn’t do for someone like you to disgrace yourself in front of strangers would it?”

She shook her finger at him as she grinned. “Oh, you are good. You are definitely good.”

He beamed at her. “Why thank you, my lady.”

Isabel mock rolled her eyes at him, even as she blushed. “Please, it’s just Isabel okay?”

“You sure?” he asked. When she nodded, he sighed. “All right then, Isabel. As long as you are okay, I guess we’ll be on our ways then.”

Isabel smiled. “I’m fine. Thank you again.”

She straightened up and put weight on her foot only to grimace and lean back against the wall again.

Alex frowned. “Now that didn’t look like an okay face.”

As he realized she was favoring her left foot, he bent down. “Here let me see.”

“It’s okay, I think I just stepped wrong or something.”

Alex reached out to touch her ankle which immediately made her hiss in pain. He continued to frown at the ankle before looking up at her. “I think you might have sprained it. It looks kind of swollen. I can help you to an emergency room if you’d like.”

“No it’s okay. I’ll manage.” She tried putting weight on it again, but whimpered when she realized it just wasn’t going to let her do that.

Alex straightened up and nodded with a serious look on his face. “Okay, this isn’t good and I wouldn’t be the gentleman my parents raised me to be if I didn’t help someone in need of it. Now, we can do this one of two ways. You can trust me to drive your car to the emergency room where I can leave you there and get a cab back here or I can drive you there in my car and you can worry about getting your car later. Which is it going to be?”

Isabel sighed as she looked out into the distance. She knew he was right. She could feel her ankle swelling up and she would need someone’s help getting to the doctor. Finally making up her mind, she turned to him.

“Would you mind driving me to the emergency room? I can pick up my car later.”

He smiled. “No problem. Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but…”

She laughed. “I won’t slap you for wanting to carry me to your car, Alex.”

“Okay, that’s good to hear,” he replied as he bent over to swing her into his arms. “Hold on, my lady and I’ll get you there in one piece.”

She smiled. “Thank you, my lord.”

************************************************************

Liz smiled at Max from her seat at the dinner table. She’d been a little surprised when Max had shown up in a pair of very nice dark brown dress slacks, burgundy shirt, and a matching coat and tie. At first she’d thought they were just going somewhere to hang out, but the moment she opened the door to see the way Max looked, she knew it was a date.

Then he’d told her she looked beautiful in her knee length baby blue scoop neck dress and offered her his arm to escort her to his car. She’d definitely known it was a date when he’d held open the car door and even helped her out of the car once they’d gotten to the restaurant.

Max had chosen a cozy little Italian restaurant he’d once worked at because he knew the food was good there. The place wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but that was a different thing once they were inside. There were intimate tables covered in red and white checkered tablecloths with old-fashioned looking lanterns in the center of the tables. The rest of the décor also added to the cozy, romantic feel of the place.

As soon as they’d been seated, the waiter had come up to them and had immediately recognized Max. The two of them had exchanged friendly hellos and light banter before Max had asked Liz if she’d like some wine. When she had said yes, he’d ordered a bottle of wine which he knew she’d like.

The waiter soon returned with the wine and had taken their orders after that before leaving the two of them alone again. Liz had taken that time to peruse the restaurant décor again before smiling at him.

He returned her smile. “What are you thinking?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Nothing, it’s silly.”

He quirked an eyebrow as he took a sip of his wine. “Try me.”

She grinned as she looked down at the checkered tablecloth. “It’s silly, but I almost feel like I’m in a live version of Lady and the Tramp. I mean, the restaurant looks just like the kind of restaurant in the cartoon.”

She rolled her eyes. “God, listen to me. I’m talking about cartoons! I really need to get out more!”

Max laughed at that. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I happen to like Lady and the Tramp.”

Now she looked at him in disbelief. “You know that?”

“Of course! Kylan isn’t the first kid I’ve baby sat for you know.”

She nodded. “Right, so you’ve been around huh?”

“Yep.”

She gave him a smug look. “All right mister know-it-all. Let’s test your knowledge. What film is the song Under the Sea from?”

Max tsked. “Oh please, that’s too easy! The Little Mermaid.”

“Too easy huh? Okay then, let’s try another one. Basil of Baker Street?”

“The Great Mouse Detective.”

Her eyes went wide. “Who said, father you’re living in the past, this is the fourteenth century?”

“Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty.”

She gaped at him.

He chuckled. “Okay, your turn. Who said, I’m losing to a rug?”

She laughed. “The Genie in Aladdin.”
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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

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Shadowlynxbehr
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Post by Shadowlynxbehr » Mon May 28, 2007 2:40 pm

************************************************************

Isabel sat leaning back against her headboard, her bandaged foot propped up on a pillow in front of her. Alex had been the perfect gentleman all evening as he’d driven her to the emergency room and waited with her until they could see her.

While they’d waited, she had gotten to know him a little better and she’d found out just how charming he really was. And very well mannered. She couldn’t believe how well mannered of a guy he could be in this day and age, but that was what had impressed her the most about him.

He was friendly, unassuming, and obviously loyal to his friends. She’d managed to get him talking about his best friend, who happened to be Max and Isabel had listened intently as Alex described the things they did together.

The more he talked to her, the more she knew she’d made a huge mistake in letting Jesse talk her into his ridiculous scheme. From what Alex said, Max seemed like a really decent guy and Isabel just couldn’t do anything to hurt him or Alex.

Once the doctor had seen her and they’d taken x-rays, she and Alex had talked some more as they waited for the verdict. She was lucky that it was just a sprained ankle, so the doctor had given her something to help the pain and swelling before wrapping it up and giving her a pair of crutches.

She was told to stay off of it for a few days before going to see her regular doctor for a checkup. Once that had all been done, Alex had driven her to her place following the directions she gave him. Then he’d been the gentleman once more, helping her into her home and getting her comfortable and settled in her bedroom. He’d asked her if she needed him to run to a nearby store for anything else, but she’d told him she was fine now.

It was the truth. Her ankle was feeling better with the medication and being wrapped up, so all she was going to do was stay in bed and watch television. She’d thanked Alex once more and told him she’d buy him dinner or something since he’d been so helpful.

Finally, he’d reluctantly agreed and wrote down his phone number for her. Before leaving, he’d told her she could also call him if she needed anything, anytime since he knew she’d have to stay off her foot for a while. Isabel had reassured him that she would call if she needed anything and had thanked him once more before he’d said goodbye and let himself out.

Now she sat alone in her bedroom and stared at her wrapped ankle. Thoughts of Alex and Max wandering around in her head. With her mind made up, she leaned over and picked up her phone, dialing the number and listening to the phone ring.

“Hello?”

“Hello, it’s Isabel.”

“Isabel. I didn’t think you’d be getting back to me so soon.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“Oh? Then what is it?”

“I’m calling to tell you that I’m interested in getting any sort of revenge against Liz. And I’m not interested in helping you out either. So, just stay away from me and go find yourself someone else to help you.”

“Now Isabel, I don’t think you understand.”

“Oh I understand perfectly well. And I want no part in this, okay? I’m not interested, so just leave me alone.”

He sighed. “Look, that guy needs to be out of her life. He’s going to ruin her and I won’t stand by to watch him do it.”

“Fine, do whatever you want, but I’m not going to help you.” She paused for a moment before saying, “I’ve got to go. Don’t try to get in touch with me again because I’m not interested.”

With that, she hung up the phone and leaned her head back. Closing her eyes with a sigh of relief. She already felt much more lighter now that she didn’t have that on her conscience.

************************************************************

Liz laughed as Max twirled her around before bringing her back in towards him. They were now at a club with an outdoor patio area. Just like the restaurant, it wasn’t much to look at from the front, but once inside things were so much more fun.

It was a three story club with the stairs set right inside the entrance. The first floor was mostly a huge dance floor where huge speakers pumped out Techno, hip hop, alternative, or whatever the theme for that night of the week it was. The second floor was a piano bar, but also had local jazz bands playing there on some weekends. The third floor was a country and western dance club, which did karaoke on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

There was also the patio area out back. The patio was decked out to look like a beach club, but didn’t always play beach music. However, most of the music they played was of the lighter variety. Tonight, it was a mix of swing and big band music.

While Liz didn’t really know how to dance to that kind of music, Max had managed to improvise. No one really cared if you were dancing with the right moves, so long as you were having fun. And Liz was clearly having fun.

She loved the lively decorations of the patio and the way everyone seemed to be laughing and having a great time. At first, she’d been hesitant to dance, but Max had talked her into it and soon she was smiling and having a blast. Max was also having the time of his life as he twirled her around the dance floor while wearing a huge smile on his face.

There had already been several times when the two of them had been laughing so hard over the antics they pulled on each other out on the dance floor. She was glad that he’d managed to keep things lively and fun.

As the latest song came to an end, Max pulled her in and leaned down to speak loud enough for her to hear. “I need break. Want something to drink?”

Liz nodded. “Yes, I’m parched.”

He chuckled as he took her hand and led her off the dance floor, heading towards the Hawaiian looking bar near the back of the patio area. He got a Heineken for him and a Pina Colada for Liz because she was in the mood for a fun drink.

They took their drinks and made their way to sit at one of the rattan tables set around the patio. Sipping her drink, Liz looked at the dancers who were currently dancing to another big band song. She grinned at the sight before turning to smile at Max.

“How’d you know about this place? Did you work here too?”

He leaned in closer so they could hear each other over the music. “Not exactly. When I was working as a carpenter, I was hired to help build this patio area. The three clubs were already up and running at that time, but I guess the owners wanted an outside area too.”

Liz nodded. “Oh, so you decided to check it out after it was finished.”

“Yeah, while I worked on the patio, I came to visit the other clubs every once in a while. And once the patio area opened up, I came to see the result.”

“So, which area do you prefer?”

He shrugged. “It depends on my mood I guess or who I’m with. When I just want to chill and have a drink, it’s the piano bar. When I want to have fun, it’s either third floor or out here.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Ever go to the first floor?”

“Not really, no.”

She frowned. “What? You don’t like that kind of music?”

“Oh, I like it. I just haven’t had the right opportunity to go there.”

“Opportunity? What about right now?”

He looked at her for a moment. “You want to go?”

She smiled. “Only if you want to.”

He shrugged again. “It’s just that I figured I’d make this a relaxing, fun night for you.”

She laughed. “Oh, believe me, it’s been all of that. But we can go see the other clubs too you know. I’m open for adventure.”

He laughed. “Okay then, let’s go on an adventure.”

She giggled as he stood up and offered her his hand. Sliding her hand into his, she picked up her drink and let him lead her back inside. As soon as they had walked into the door, they were bombarded with loud techno music which literally made their hearts feel like they were trying to beat their way out of their chests.

Max looked back at her to make sure she wanted to go in and she gave him a huge smile as she followed him. He led her to the bars that framed the dance floor, pulling her in front of him so she could watch the dancers. They stood there for a while, finishing off their drinks and watching everyone else.

Later, Liz finally dragged Max out to the dance floor where they took up dancing just like those around them. Liz realized that Max was just a natural dancer since he had no problem picking up the general moves that most of the others were doing. In fact, she thought Max was much better at getting the hang of it than she was.

“Liz, don’t try so hard. Just relax and let the music guide you. That’s what I’m doing.” Max spoke into her ear as he held her close to his body. As usual, he had to literally yell what he was saying in order for her to hear him.

She leaned up to yell back at him. “I know! I’ve been trying to do that. I guess I’m just not a natural like you.”

Max leaned back slightly to look into her eyes with a look of disbelief. Leaning back in he said, “Close your eyes for a minute.”

He waited until she did and took one of her hands in his, lifting it to his heart. “Feel that?”

She nodded.

“Okay, now keep your eyes closed and just focus on what you feel. Let that guide your movements.”

“Okay.”

Max slid his free arm around her waist, pulling her as close to his body as he could with their joined hands still resting over his heart. As his fingers began to tap out the rhythm over the back of her hand, he began to move his body in time to that. Since his arm was tight around her, she had no choice but to allow her body to move with his.

Focusing on the way his heart beat against her palm and on the rhythm of his fingers, Liz found it easy to move with him. It didn’t take her very long to find her groove and she remained like that for the rest of the song.

When the song blended into a new one, Liz opened her eyes, but kept on dancing. She tilted her head back to look up at Max with a smile. Mouthing the words ‘I think it’s working’ to him.

He nodded, returning her smile as they continued to dance. Liz was beginning to enjoy herself in that club as she and Max danced to two more songs. Then, the next song was much slower than the others had been. Suddenly, their dancing went from a fast tempo to a slow, sultry one.

It was only a matter of seconds before Liz became very aware of just how she and Max were now dancing. This slow dancing made her very aware of the way his body way pressed against hers. She was also aware of the way his hand rested on the small of her back with the fingers grazing the swell of her buttocks. That and the knee he had pressed between her legs was suddenly making her cheeks burn.

They had been dancing like that all along, but now that the tempo had slowed down immensely, Liz was aware of the fact that the only thing between the both of them were a few thin layers of clothing.

As her heart beat sped up, Max let go of her hand and slid his hand down to rest on her hip. The way he settled it against her hip, made her feel like it was one of the most intimate touches she’d ever had. As she began to find it hard to breathe, he leaned his head down until his forehead touched hers.

Instinctively, she looked into his eyes and was instantly pulled in by what she saw there. Unable to resist the sultry beat and the intense look in Max’s eyes, Liz wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pressed her body into his.

The two of them continued to dance that closely until the song finally ended. As the next faster song began, Max didn’t move look away from her. Nor did he change their movements to match the faster tempo. Instead, it was a few more minutes before he finally mouthed the words “ready to go?”

Liz nodded since she couldn’t muster the strength to do anything else and allowed Max to lead her off the dance floor and out of the club.

************************************************************

Liz didn’t know what to say. She had no idea how to break the awkward silence that had fallen between them after they had left the club. Max had held her hand all the way to his car where he’d helped her in before going to his side.

Along the way, he had stopped at a convenience store to put some gas in his car. While he went inside to pay, Liz sat in the car waiting for him. He’d come back with a bag of items which he’d stashed behind his seat before getting in and driving her home.

All that time from the club to her house, not a word was spoken between them except for when Max had asked her if she’d wanted anything from the store. Her response had been a shake of her head. The rest of the time had been filled by the radio station Max had turned on to fill the silence.

Once he had pulled into the parking lot of her apartments, Liz had waited until he turned off his car before getting out and walking towards her apartment. She didn’t wait for Max, assuming he was following her. Instead, she walked to her door, trying to muster up the courage to say something to him.

As she reached her door, she pulled out her key and unlocked it before finally turning to face him. He came to a stop not to far from her and lifted his head up to smile at her.

“Thanks for going out with me tonight, Liz.”

She returned his smile. “Thanks for inviting me. I had a wonderful time, Max. I really did.”

He chuckled. “Maybe we should do this again sometime.”

She nodded. “I’d like that.”

They stood in silence once more, just smiling at each other until Liz whispered, “Well, goodnight Max.”

She turned around to open the door, stopping only when she heard him whisper, “Liz?”

She looked back at him to see that he now held out a single red rose towards her. As a small gasp of surprise escaped her, he spoke.

“I know it’s not until Wednesday, but I thought I’d give this to you tonight.”

She reached out and curled her fingers around the stem, bringing it up to her nose to smell it.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Liz.”

She smiled at his thoughtfulness, knowing he’d gotten that rose while he’d been in the convenience store. Even now, at the end of their date, he was still surprising her.

“It’s beautiful, Max. Thank you.”

He nodded as he lifted his hand to caress her cheek. “You’re welcome.”

Liz didn’t move as she looked into his eyes. The feel of his hand on her cheek, held her there. That and the anticipation. This was something she’d never expected from him and now that it had happened, she was too stunned to figure out what to do next.

Max took her reaction to mean she wasn’t adverse to the idea of something happening between them. Mustering up his courage and hoping he wasn’t messing things up, he slowly leaned in towards her still giving her time to back away if that’s what she wanted.

Liz was aware of the space disappearing between his face and hers. The knowledge of that made her heart speed up once more and her breath hitched for a split second. Yet, she still didn’t move. Instead, she watched him get closer and closer until her eyelids began to instinctively close.

For one heartbeat there was nothing but silence and darkness. One heartbeat. Then in the next, she had the impression of something soft and warm brushing over her lips. Just as she was about to open her eyes again, she felt it again. This time the touch lingered.

When Liz didn’t pull away from his first quick kiss, Max didn’t hesitate to continue. Sliding a hand behind her neck, he held her close and pressed his lips firmly against hers. Her fingers tangled in the tie he wore as her lips responded to his.

Liz realized she’d stopped breathing when Max pressed his lips against hers a second time. Forcing herself to breathe, she parted her lips slightly and felt her knees nearly give when his tongue swirled over her lips. She grasped the first thing her fingers could find as she held on to him for dear life.

Max deepened the kiss as he felt her beginning to lean against him. Still, he kept the pace slow, allowing her to respond to him. He slid his tongue over her lips, then dipped it inside her mouth, teasing her tongue and the inside of her lips.

A soft moan escaped her as he wrapped an arm around her waist, bringing her close to him. His other hand moved from the back of her neck up into her hair and still he kissed her.

Finally air became an issue and he slowly began to pull away from her. His heart did a funny flip when he saw the way she looked. Her eyes remained closed and she wore a small smile as if she were still savoring his kiss.

A few seconds later, she opened her eyes to meet his.

This time the silence didn’t seem the least bit awkward between them as her smile widened a bit and she whispered once more.

“Goodnight Max.”

“Night Liz.”

He waited until she had walked inside and closed the door before he turned and walked to his car. A smile similar to the one he’d just seen on her face was now playing over his own.

************************************************************

Hours later, in the dead of the night when everyone else was asleep, a little boy opened sleepy eyes and grinned.

“Max kissed my mom.”

“Yes,” came the whispered answer. “And she kissed him back.”

He closed his eyes once more, but the smile didn’t fade even though the light did.

“It’s about time.”

TBC...
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"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -Dr. Seuss

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